Arsenal are reportedly preparing themselves for an approach from Barcelona for captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this week.
The La Liga champions, who slumped to a disappointing 2-0 loss against Valencia on Saturday, are desperate to secure a replacement for Luis Suarez, who will miss the next four months following knee surgery.
Aubameyang is Barca’s top target and the Catalan outfit are expected to make an enquiry before Friday’s transfer deadline, with Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno an alternative option, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The report details that Arsenal would demand at least £50m to even think about parting ways with their skipper, who is unavailable for tonight’s FA Cup clash against Bournemouth as he serves his the final game of his three-match ban for a red card against Crystal Palace on January 11.
That being said, the Gabon international only has 18 months remaining on his current deal, and would reportedly be interested in a move to Spain.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is keen to keep Aubameyang, despite the fact teenager Gabriel Martinelli has stepped up to the plate in his absence.
It could be a case of prolonging the inevitable for the Gunners though – Aubameyang, 30, would likely leave the club in the summer if Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League.
They are currently 10 points off fourth-placed Chelsea, and see the Europa League as a more viable option for qualification.
From Barca’s point of view, should a deal not be agreed for Aubameyang this week, they could plunge for Spain international Rodrigo in the coming days such is new manager Quique Setien’s willingness to bring in attacking reinforcements.
Barca are now three points off leaders Real Madrid in La Liga after Saturday’s defeat at the Mestalla.