In William Saliba, Arsenal already have one of the most exciting young centre-backs on the continent arriving in the summer.
So it says a lot about their defensive shortcomings that despite that, there is already a clamour for more competition at the heart of defence.
Dayot Upamecano is the most widely reported target, but news has emerged over the last week or so claiming that the Gunners have made contact with Stade de Reims over 22-year-old Axel Disasi, who could be available for as little as £13m.
Reports have conflicted over that one, with the Mail later claiming that Mikel Arteta has dramatically ‘dropped interest’ in the big defender, instead focusing his efforts on a permanent deal for Pablo Mari – who joined on loan from Flamengo in January and broke into the team just before the enforced break.
And now the latest from The Athletic’s dependable David Ornstein claims that Arsenal have tracked Disasi, but while they could add both him and Mari to their squad on permanent contracts this summer, it’s the left-sided Mari who remains the more likely addition.
“We know central defence is an area that they’re looking to strengthen,” Ornstein said on The Ornstein and Chapman Podcast.
“In recent days, they’ve been linked with Axel Disasi at Reims. The young French defender who’s only got a year left on his contract.
“It is true that Arsenal have been tracking him over the last year or so – as have many other clubs.
“I’m not saying I know for sure they won’t look to bring him in, but what I do know is that he’s a right-footed centre-half and Mikel Arteta’s preference is to sign permanently a left-footed centre-half.
“As such, I understand that it’s very likely that they’ll make the loan deal for Pablo Mari into a permanent transfer for around £10m…or Euros, they’re about the same now. That would satisfy Arteta’s need for the left-sided centre-half, but I’m not exactly sure what else they’ll do.”
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