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Arsenal have already taken the first steps to sign Sporting Lisbon defender Ousmane Diomande this year, according to Portuguese publication O Jogo (page 6)...READ THE FULL STORY HERE▶

The Gunners are long-term admirers of the Ivorian centre-back. They were first interested in signing him from Midtjylland last winter before Sporting purchased him.

Mikel Arteta’s side made a fresh €35 million proposal to Sporting last summer, but the Portuguese outfit made it clear that they would not sell for less than his €80m release clause.

Arsenal are planning to scout Diomande at the African Cup of Nations and O Jogo claim that they have ‘already taken the first steps’ to sign him by contacting his representatives.

However, they face stiff competition from rivals Chelsea, who are aiming to sign a new centre-back for Mauricio Pochettino this month if they can recoup funds from player sales.

Arsenal could pursue summer deal for Diomande

The Gunners have been following the centre-back’s progress with great interest, but it is unlikely that they will make an approach for him due to the high buy-out clause in his deal.

The club’s main focus for the January transfer window should be a striker. They may need to spend plenty to sign Brentford star Ivan Toney, who could improve their title prospects.

As a result, any move for Diomande could be put on hold until the summer where the Gunners could have the opportunity of negotiating a lesser fee than the buy-out clause.

Chelsea are also in contention to land the 20-year-old, but they have Financial Fair Play problems of their own after the lavish spending under owner Todd Boehly over the last 18 months.

Even if they recoup funds from player sales, Diomande would have the final say on a transfer. He could resist joining a club, who may not play Champions League football for a second straight season.

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