Arsenal enter race for Man Utd target – but he’s Plan B to Roma star

Date published: Wednesday 18th March 2020 10:00

Arsenal are ready to rival Manchester United for Samuel Umtiti – but will first try and convince the Red Devils to sell them Chris Smalling first.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is targeting a move to bring in a new centre-half this summer with RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano very much in their thinking.

However, the £52million price tag on the Frenchman looks likely to price them out, while a lack of Champions League football will also count against them.

Instead, Arsenal are shopping instead in the £25m – £30m bracket – and reportedly have two men in mind.

First of all, according to Sport, the Gunners are set to rival Manchester United to the signing of Samuel Umtiti after Barcelona put the World Cup winner up for sale.

Umtiti has been a solid addition for Barca since his arrival from Lyon in 2016.

However, since signing a new deal at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, the 26-year-old has been plagued by knee problems which have restricted his game time.

Indeed, the centre-back made only 15 appearances last term and has made 16 so far this time round.

According to the Spanish publication, Umtiti was placed on the transfer list last summer but his injury issues meant clubs were reluctant to approach with offers.

With the Frenchman slowly returning to full fitness this season, the source adds that Barca feel this summer would be their best opportunity to sell up.

And their reported interest comes after it was claimed that United are ‘pushing out all the stops’ to bring Umtiti to Old Trafford this summer.

The Red Devils are said to be looking for a top-class left-sided centre-back who can partner Harry Maguire at the back as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues his rebuild – and it seems Umtiti, despite his injury record, fits the bill.

However, while Umtiti is on Arsenal’s radar, he may only be their back-up plan to a man now emerging as their primary defensive target – Roma loanee Chris Smalling.

 

 

According to the Daily Mirror, the Italians want to sign the United star on a permanent deal after he impressed while on loan in the Italian capital.

United chiefs are reported to have stuck a £25m fee on the defender’s head and while that’s more than the Serie A giants had initially hoped to spend, such has been his impact that they’d be willing to meet that price – but only if they qualify for the Champions League.

They are currently fifth in Serie A – three points off fourth place, although it remains to be seen how the season will play out after it was halted.

However, should Roma miss out, it’s expected they will pass up the chance to sign Smalling – and seemingly leave Arsenal as the favourites to offer the 30-year-old.

Smalling has proved a revelation this season during his time in Italy and would fit the profile of a reliable defender for which Arteta wants to build his side around next season.

 

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