Arsenal are reportedly set to make a £22 million bid for Gonzalo Higuain as they look to seal a deal for the Real Madrid striker this week. The stories come after claims that Juventus were put off by Madrid’s asking price for the 25-year-old and have now turned their attentions to Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez.
The deal, if it materializes, would smash Arsenal’s transfer record, which is still held by the £15 million paid for Andrei Arshavin in 2009. The Daily Mirror reports that Higuain is currently on weekly wages of £130,000, with Arsenal prepared to increase that to £150,000 a week, according to the Daily Mail. That would also mean the Gunners shattering their notorious wage structure, with their top earner currently on around £90,000 a week.
There remains some skepticism about the figures, however. Just last week, Madrid president Florentino Perez insisted that €30 million (£25.5m) would not be enough to land the Argentina international. It is also unlikely that any decision will be taken on Higuain’s future before Madrid appoint a new manager. They are still trying to negotiate the release of Paris Saint-Germain boss Carlo Ancelotti.
The Daily Mail reports that Arsenal are also firmly in the hunt to sign Real Sociedad defensive midfielder Asier Illarramendi. The 23-year-old is currently in action at the European Under-21 Championship and will play for Spain in Tuesday’s final against Italy. He is thought to be valued at £10 million and also be on the radar of Real Madrid. Illarramendi came through the youth system at Sociedad, making his debut in 2010.
More outlandish speculation in recent weeks has seen Arsenal linked with another Spanish midfielder in Cesc Fabregas. The former Gunners skipper is said to be unhappy at Barcelona and contemplating a move to the Premier League. While Manchester United have been strongly linked, the fact that Arsenal have a buy-back clause also brought Arsene Wenger’ side into the equation. But Fabregas has continued to insist that he wants to stay at Barcelona and in his latest comments he has also revealed that no club has approached him.
"People talk a lot but the truth is that no-one has spoken with me,” he said, according to Sky Sports. "I want to triumph in Barcelona, that club is my home and I always dreamed of playing there, so I will try and succeed there as long as I can."
Fabregas was just one of many leading players to have departed the Emirates in recent seasons and Arsenal will be hoping that the pattern does not continue this summer. Central defender Laurent Koscielny, who has become an important player in the past two seasons, has recently been linked with a move to Barcelona or Bayern Munich.
But the Sun reports that the 27-year-old France international has told Wenger that he is happy to stay at the club. Koscielny joined from French side Lorient in 2010 for around £8 million and his partnership with Per Mertesacker kept Thomas Vermaelen out of the team toward the end of last season.