Arsenal were placed on red alert in response to a significant update on ‘transfer target’ Eduardo Camavinga.
Speculation over the future of the France sensation – currently with Rennes – has gathered pace following reports he is set to reject any new contract offer from the Ligue 1 side.
The 18-year-old has already played over 70 games for Rennes in all competitions, having made his debut in 2019.
In doing so, the midfielder – capped four times at senior level by the World Cup holders – has emerged as one of the hottest properties in European football.
Indeed, it’s not only the Gunners who have been linked with a £45million swoop.
As is so often the case with such a highly-rated prospect, big-spending La Liga giants Real Madrid are in hot pursuit, while Manchester United and Juventus are also thought to be in the mix.
Here is everything that has been said about Camavinga amid reported interest from Arsenal.
Surprisingly in the modern game, where managers and players often provide guarded – or scripted – answers about their futures, the Frenchman has been refreshingly open about his options.
Reports that he is set to reject any offer of a new contract with the Ligue 1 club have surfaced this week.
However, that has not always been Camavinga’s stance throughout the course of this season.
Speaking back in September, following high-profile interest in him last summer, he said: “Certainly when a big club are interested, it is nice. But I am not getting carried away.
“I took this choice with my family [to stay at Rennes]. We are happy to have made this decision. I just need to focus on football and not think too much about everything else around it.”
When pressed about the same hot topic in November, Camavinga added: “The great clubs make me dream, but I cannot name one in particular for my future. We’ll see [about a new Rennes deal]. We haven’t set a date to discuss my future, I am in no rush about it.
“There will be negotiations to keep me here. It would be a pleasure for me to continue at Rennes. I have two years left on my contract and we have enough time to talk about it.”
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As suggested above, the balance shifted in January when Camavinga teamed-up with ‘super agent’ Barnett.
On that decision and it’s possible knock-on effect, he said: “My change of agent? These are things that happen in football, we shouldn’t focus on that. I have faith in my parents, quite simply.
“Could I sign an extension? Yes. Do I want to? Yes. What is holding it up? I do not know, there are negotiations. If you want to talk about that, there is my father. It is you, journalists, who have been talking about me leaving, but I am 100 per cent focused on the club.”
He added: “Life is very good at the moment. It is nice when a big club is interested in you, but I am at Stade Rennais. We will wait until the end of the season. We will meet around the table, we will weigh-up the pros and cons then.”
It’s not only behind the scenes in Camavinga’s camp that the situation has changed since the turn of the year.
Indeed, Rennes have recently-appointed Bruno Genesio to replace Julien Stephan, who resigned from his position at the start of March – having reportedly been a close ally of the French player.
Now, as suggestions of a £45million bidding war continue, his new coach has urged the midfielder to stay put in Ligue 1 – at least for the time being.
Genesio told French newspaper Ouest-France earlier this month: “I think it would be best for him [to sign a new contract].
“Because he is at home, in a club where he trains very well, because he is still a very young player, because I think he still needs to accumulate experience and because he has a lot of time in front of him to progress across the levels.”
Already one of the most tracked young players on the planet, speculation that Camavinga will pursue a big-money and high-profile move this summer really started to gather pace in December – when he switched agents to Gareth Bale’s world-renowned adviser Jonathan Barnett.
Speaking about the Frenchman, he said: “Camavinga can play next year in the Premier League. He is that good. Whether he will or not, I don’t know. His background has been tough, with what he went through as a refugee and the burning of his home [in Rennes].
“But his character is amazingly strong. He is not your average 18-year-old. Playing in front of 100,000 people is not going to scare him. He’s a lovely boy and I think he’s going to be a superstar.”
Adding further fuel to the fire ahead of the transfer window, Barnett told The Athletic last month: “I’m expecting three or four very big deals of my own that will break a lot of records. Hopefully, they’ll come about. For the smaller clubs, I think there won’t be as many transfers.
“We have some very good players. We have probably the best young player in the world in Camavinga. We’ve got (Jack) Grealish. We’ve got Konate at Leipzig.”
Of course, interest in the player is not restricted to Old Trafford – or the Premier League for that matter. Indeed, the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus are also thought to be keeping tabs on Camavinga, whose contract at Rennes will expire in the summer of 2022.
Barnett continued: “We have a great relationship with Rennes and we’re working closely with Eduardo Camavinga’s father and family.
“The most important thing is to do what’s best for him. Real Madrid? We have a fantastic relationship with them. Ask them…”