Arsenal are ready to make their move for Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic — but the in-demand marksman wants to play Champions League football.
Sky Sports believe the Gunners have made an approach for the Serbian striker, who has netted 18 goals in 22 appearances in Italy this season.
They are keen to back boss Mikel Arteta in the January window, with the Spaniard desperate for fresh blood up front after recent off-field issues with former skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Vlahovic, 21, has become one of Europe’s most wanted forwards alongside Borussia Dortmund goal machine Erling Haaland.
And while the continent's top clubs prepare to do battle for Haaland this summer, Vlahovic has emerged as an attractive alternative after backing up last season’s sensational scoring exploits for La Viola this term.
With 18 months left on his contract in Florence, the Serie A club are under no obligation to sell this month and reports in Italy suggest there is "little chance" of a January switch materialising.
And even if Arsenal do bid, it seems the player will need convincing over the merits of a move to the Emirates.
Playing in the Champions League is said to be a priority for the Serb. And while he admires them as a club, the Gunners have not qualified for Europe’s premier competition since 2016.
Currently sitting fourth in the Premier League, Arteta will have high hopes of ending that absent streak this season.
The Arsenal boss, 39, has not been drawn on speculation over Vlahovic but feels the Gunners can always compete in the transfer market.
Speaking last week, he said: "Historically this club has always been targeting the best players in the world and the best players in the world are always interested to come here and I can say that situation hasn’t changed.
"Any time I have spoken to any player, they were so willing to come.
"I haven’t faced any other situation and that’s one of our biggest powers, our capacity to get the attention of people to come and join our club. It’s something that is a big advantage for us."
In other news
The Sun claim Manchester United defender Eric Bailly is high on AC Milan’s shortlist this month after Simon Kjaer was ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a knee injury.
The Rossoneri were originally keen on Lille defender Sven Botman but have been put off by the French club’s valuation, with 27-year-old Bailly now of strong interest.
Aston Villa are on the brink of completing a deal for Everton full-back Lucas Digne, according to The Guardian, with talks now said to be advancing quickly between the clubs.
Digne, 28, is keen to exit Goodison Park after falling out with Rafa Benitez and the Toffees are interested in taking Villa’s Dutch winger Anwar El Ghazi on loan as part of a deal.
Newcastle have expressed an interest in bringing Georginio Wijnaldum back to Tyneside but Football Insider believe the Dutchman is not as enthusiastic.
Paris Saint-Germain are thought to be willing to let unsettled Wijnaldum leave on loan this month.
However, the 31-year-old midfielder has reportedly set his sights higher than St James’ Park.