Arsenal are refusing to give up on a move for Sporting defender Ousmane Diomande despite having been warned that he will cost £70m, it has been reported.
The French centre-back only made his debut for the Liga NOS outfit in February this year after completing a move from FC Midtjylland in January, but has earned rave reviews in the time since.
Diomande was impressive in both legs against Arsenal as he helped Sporting knock them out of the Europa League at the last 16 stage via a penalty shoot-out, and the Gunners are now keen to sign him again.
They lost out to Sporting in January, seeing a 10m euro bid of their own knocked back for the French centre-back, who opted to move to Lisbon rather than London.
The teenager has enjoyed a strong start to the new season too, scoring twice and grabbing an assist from the heart of defence in what has been an unbeaten start in both the Portuguese top flight and their Europa League campaign.
It will only serve to heighten the interest, and in the process price tag, of the young defender, who is under contract in Portugal until 2027.
Mikel Arteta’s side are looking to find cover for William Saliba, and reportedly saw a £30m bid turned down for the Ivory Coast international in the summer.
The Gunners sold Rob Holding to Crystal Palace over the summer, and with Jurrien Timber sidelined for much of the campaign there is no recognised option to cover for Saliba, though fullbacks Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu both have experience playing in that role.
However, their no.1 target won’t be easy to land.
Sporting are pointing interested parties to his 80m euro (£70m) release clause should they want to try and prise him out of Lisbon, a fee which could be a major stumbling block for the Gunners after their hefty spending in the summer and just two major sales.
The Portuguese side are also ready to offer Diomande a wage hike in a bid to keep him at the club and allow other interested clubs to gather.
Despite this, the Express report that the north London side will not be giving up their chase of the defender, and are already readying a return in the upcoming transfer windows, though whether a January move is feasible for either party remains to be seen.