Arsenal will return for Sporting defender Ousmane Diomande next year after having a bid rejected in the summer transfer window, according to reports in Portugal.
Sporting beat a host of clubs, including Manchester City, in the race to sign Diomande from Danish side FC Midtjylland in January.
They paid €7.5million for the Ivorian centre-back, who is already being linked with an exit for ten times that price.
After signing a four-year contract in Lisbon, Diomande featured regularly in Ruben Amorim’s back four, playing the full 120 minutes of Sporting’s Europa League last 16 second leg win against Arsenal at the Emirates.
The 19-year-old has played every minute of the new season and is a player on a number of club’s radar.
Arsenal are being strongly linked with the teenage defender and reportedly tried to sign him in the summer.
Sporting are apparently hoping for €80m (£69million), which is a massive fee to pay, but Diomande clearly has a tonne of potential.
Portuguese newspaper Record are now reporting that the Gunners are still interested and have promised to come back in for the player next summer.
The report says Sporting recently rejected a €35m (£30m) bid from Mikel Arteta’s side and are reminding interested clubs that the player’s release clause is set at €80m.
Arteta improved his defensive depth this summer by signing Jurrien Timber from Ajax for around £34m.
Unfortunately for him and the Dutch defender, he suffered a serious knee injury in Arsenal’s Premier League opener against Nottingham Forest.
There is a chance Timber will not play again this season, which did not push Arteta to sign another defensive player in the summer window.
In fact, he sanctioned the £2m sale of Rob Holding to Crystal Palace and let Nuno Tavares (to Nottingham Forest) and Kieran Tierney (Real Sociedad) leave the club on loan.
Should starting centre-backs William Saliba or Gabriel Magalhaes get injured, Arteta will have Benjamin White and Jakub Kiwior to turn to.
White is Arteta’s first-choice right-back but will likely be pushed into the right-centre-back with Takehiro Tomiyasu coming in if Saliba or Gabriel are unavailable.
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