With less than two weeks of the January transfer window to go, Arsenal do not have a lot of time left to attempt to seal a deal for Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic.
The Serbian striker has been linked with a switch to the Emirates Stadium throughout the window as Mikel Arteta attempts to continue an unlikely challenge for a Champions League spot.
However, there is understandably plenty of competition in the race for the 21-year-old. With that being said, football.london takes a look at the latest developments regarding his future with the clock ticking down.
Opening bid made
The north Londoners have now submitted an opening offer for Vlahovic, according to Italian outlet Corriere Della Sera.
The report claims that technical director Edu has tabled an offer of £50million plus Uruguayan midfielder Lucas Torreira, who is currently on loan at Fiorentina.
Torreira is thought to have a £13million option in his deal that the Florence club can activate at the end of the current campaign, although the report claims that the Gunners have decided they will waive that in an attempt to convince the Serie A side to accept the aforementioned bid.
Edu urged to sign Aubameyang replacement
Gunners legend Ian Wright is optimistic that Arsenal will sign a top striker in January, and thinks that Vlahovic is an ideal replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
“They’ve done fantastic business up until this point,” Wright said on the Kelly & Wrighty Show, via the Express.
“I believe they do need to get another striker, even if everything can be sorted with Aubameyang.
“I’m hearing Vlahovic from Fiorentina. We need that player who can be between Lacazette and Aubameyang.
“I don’t know what’s happening with Laca, I’d love him to stay, I don’t know what’s happening with him, and we don’t know what’s happening with Aubameyang.
“But if we can get that striker, hard-running striker, good link-up play, good finisher, which Vlahovic is, then you’re starting to think it’s starting to happen now for Arsenal.”
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Gunners lead race
According to The Athletic, the north Londoners are pushing for the Fiorentina star this month and are currently ‘best placed’ of the Serbian’s suitors.
The report adds that they could also explore turning Lucas Torreira’s loan with the Italians into a permanent transfer as part of any agreement.
Arteta breaks silence
Mikel Arteta has opened up on his transfer plans for the next few weeks, admitting that he wants to bolster his squad if a deal is right.
“I think with the amount of things and the way we want to evolve the squad we have to maximise every window in every way,” Arteta said when asked if Vlahovic was the kind of player he would be looking at this month.
“We are already, Edu and his team are working very hard because we know exactly what we need to do. Whether we can accomplish that in January or the summer is a different question related to other stuff. But we are there.”
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According to football journalist Rudy Galetti, Atletico Madrid have identified Vlahovic as their No. 1 target.
Luis Suarez looks set to leave the Spanish outfit at the end of the season and with that, Atleti are looking at the reported Arsenal target as a replacement for the Uruguayan.
With Suarez leaving, it leaves the Madrid side short of options in the central striker position, with Joao Felix also being linked with a move away from the Wanda Metropolitano.
Fiorentina have seemingly secured a potential replacement should Vlahovic elect to leave at some point in the near future.
The Serie A side have secured the signature of Polish forward Krzysztof Piatek on-loan from Hertha BSC. The 26-year-old has already represented La Viola having played in the club’s 5-2 victory against Napoli in the Coppa Italia earlier this month.
According to the Daily Star, Vlahovic is in serious danger of pricing himself out of a move to England due to his high wage demands.
It is stated that the Serbian would like a salary of £200,000 a week after tax, a staggering amount for a player who is still just 21 years of age.
Champions League issue
With no dangling carrot of European football to wave in front of prospective targets ahead of the upcoming January transfer window, the Gunners will be hoping the promise of following in the footsteps of legends including Thierry Henry and Wright will be enough to secure Vlahovic’s services.
French journalist Julien Laurens does believe the Gunners should attempt to lure Vlahovic over to the Premier League but insists that the forward may not see his development reaching the next level whilst with Mikel Arteta’s side.
“No maybe not [a step up],” he told ESPN FC Extra Time.
“I’m not saying that it is, I’m not saying that Arsenal are telling his people that it is. He might not fancy it and that’s fine.
“If we wants a Champions League club, no problem. If he wants to go straight into a City, a Liverpool, a Bayern Munich or wherever he wants to go, no problem.
“But I think it would be crazy for Arsenal not to try.”
A sizeable transfer fee
Currently valued by TransferMarkt at £45million, Vlahovic is a cultured finisher and is deadly in front of goal, especially once he cuts onto his favoured left foot.
With the fee mentioned circulating around the £70million-£80million mark in recent weeks, the Gunners would have to part with around the same region of funds needed to lure Nicolas Pepe away from former club Lille back in August 2019.
Sky Sports and BBC pundit Micah Richards, who played for La Viola on loan during the 2014/15 season, believes the Serbian striker has all the qualities to demand such a sizeable fee.
Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, former Premier League star Richards said: ”I have watched him a couple of times now. He is lightning. It’s ridiculous.
”He has got 16 in 18 this season. His left foot is like a wand,” he continued.
“I am telling you now, he is everything, he is everything you need.”
With La Viola seeing their top scorer this season as a valuable asset, club director Joe Barone insists the stance regarding his sale has remained the same for the last few months.
With Fiorentina currently going well in Serie A and bidding to enable themselves the best possible finish to ensure European qualification, it is no surprise the firm grip they are fronting surrounding their Serbian centre forward.
Barone told La Repubblica newspaper, as quoted by Calciomercato.com, that the same offer still stands, despite the ongoing rejection from both player and agent.
“We’ve made the same offer multiple times, and both he and his agent made us understand that they would not accept it,” he said.
“The offer is still on the table and won’t change, but we can’t know what will happen in the future.”
Vlahovic delays transfer decision
Whilst Fiorentina have made their position over the Serbian frontman abundantly clear, Vlahovic himself appears to be putting off making a decision.
According to 90min.com, the 21-year-old is in no rush to secure a move in January and would prefer to wait until the summer.
By then, he will have just a year remaining on his current contract in Italy.
Fiorentina boss issues major update
Fiorentina head coach Vincenzo Italiano has admitted that he isn’t sure where Vlahovic’s future lies amid Arsenal’s interest.
As quoted by Fabrizio Romano following La Viola’s 6-0 thumping of Genoa, he said: “At the moment we enjoy Dusan here at Fiorentina, he’s with us – I don’t know about the future.
“He scored a great goal today. I see him very motivated, he’s relaxed.”
Arsenal bid ‘accepted’
Arsenal have had a bid accepted for Vlahovic, according to reports in Italy. As per OK Calcio Mercato, the Gunners have offered €80m (£66.6m) plus bonuses for the Serbian forward’s services, a bid that has actually been accepted by Fiorentina.
However, that does not mean a deal is imminent as in the same report, it is claimed that he has already agreed to join Italian giants Juventus as a free agent when his current contract expires in 2023.
Do you think Arsenal have a good chance of signing Vlahovic? Is he the answer to the striking needs? Have your say by leaving a comment below.