Arsenal plan to re-sign a former striker this summer in a deal that could set them back as much as £48m and amid reports they will be forced to cash in on prized asset Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Latest rumours suggest that the Gunners will not be able to afford the striker’s increased wages to extend his deal and he will almost certainly move on at the end of the current campaign.
Aubameyang will enter the final 12 months of his contract this summer, and the club’s hierarchy would sooner fetch a decent fee for him rather than lose the 30-year-old for nothing in 2021.
Mikel Arteta insists he still wants the forward to stay but talks with Arsenal will need to improve significantly for that to happen.
“We will have to do that at some stage before the end of the season for sure and we will see the intentions that we have [and] his intentions,” Arteta said.
“Where we are sitting in [the table at] that moment. I think it is difficult to predict that context right now. For me it is very easy. I want to keep him under any circumstances.”
Aubameyang has scored 17 Premier League goals for the season and is currently joint leader in the Golden Boot race with Jamie Vardy and one ahead of Sergio Aguero.
While the Gunners also have Alexandre Lacazette, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah on their books, they are still likely look to sign a replacement if Aubameyang leaves.
A report on Saturday claimed Arsenal had four candidates in mind to replace Aubameyang should he leave, with three of the quartet wide attackers.
However, Le 10 Sport, via The Sun, actually claims Arsenal will want a direct replacement for Aubameyang – and have strongly watched their former striker Donyell Malen.
The 21-year-old has been in electric form this season, having netted 11 goals in just 14 Eredivisie matches and 28 in 71 overall for PSV Eindhoven, who he joined for just £500,000 back in August 2017 from the Gunners.
Malen failed to make the first-team breakthrough at Arsenal under then-boss Arsene Wenger amid rumours he struggled with his weight during his time in north London.
However, Malen insists he left Arsenal for first-team football and not because of issues with his fitness.
He told De Telegraaf: “That I was sent away from Arsenal is certainly not true.
“I still had a contract for a year and Arsenal even wanted to extend that. I don’t play football for the money. I never did that. Otherwise I would not have left England.
“There are stories that I was not fit when I came to Arsenal. But I have never been too fat, that really is a nonsense story.
“It may sound silly, but I may have learned the most from the young boys such as Reiss Nelson.
“They were used to a completely different kind of football, really that English style.”
And amid claims he is wanted back at Arsenal, his club have been forced to stick a £48m asking price on his head.
Arteta thinking of Aubameyang, not Malen
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta, however, is desperate to retain Aubameyang’s services and said recently of the prolific Gabonese striker: “For me it is very easy. I want to keep him under any circumstances.
“We will have to talk at some stage before the end of the season and see his intentions and where we’re sitting in that moment.
“I think it is difficult to predict that context right now.”