Mikel Arteta is reported to have taken another step to securing one of his 'dream' signings, as Arsenal step up their efforts to land Philippe Coutinho this summer.
The Brazilian has been on loan at Bayern Munich since the summer, but after flattering to deceive in Germany, Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rumenigge confirmed on Friday that the club have not exercised an option to buy him from Barcelona.
"The option expired and we haven't activated it," Rumenigge said.
"We're going to plan our squad for next season and we'll see if he still has a role to play with us or not."
That doesn't fully close the door on a Bayern return - it could just be that the Bavarian giants don't fancy the pre-agreed €120m - but it does leave the door open for any other interested party to negotiate a deal.
French outlet Le10Sport claim the 27-year-old, whose reputation has declined steadily ever since his €140m move from Liverpool in 2018, is something of a 'dream' addition for Gunners boss Arteta, and add that Arsenal representatives have moved to open talks with his agent Kia Joorabchian.
Given that the coronavirus crisis is set to dramatically change the transfer market, Barca's chances of attaining an acceptable fee for Coutinho seem a stretch at best. Arsenal would struggle to cough up a fee north of €80m at the best of times, so another loan with an option or obligation to buy is perhaps the only viable option if he is to head to north London.
It's believed the Premier League is his most likely destination, however, with Chelsea also circling.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Joorabchian said there is yet to be a formal approach for his client's services.
"At the moment, we have not spoken to anybody about any deals whatsoever," Joorabchian said.
"I think at the moment everyone’s concentration is regarding this pandemic and how football can restart the season in a secure environment and over the health and safety of everybody.
"I think the transfer side of things and where he will go or where people will go will come into play down the line when things have got back to some sort of normality."
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Source : 90min