Arsenal are hoping to agree a £15m deal for Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic as a backup should their bid to sign Mario Balotelli fail, reports Metro.
Arsene Wenger is reportedly set to hold talks with Balotelli's agent this weekend in the hope of gaging whether or not the Italian would be interested in a move to the Emirates Stadium.
However, should Arsenal fail in their bid to sign the controversial striker they will move for Mandzukic, who has already confirmed his intentions to leave the Allianz Arena this summer.
The 28-year-old impressed for Croatia on Wednesday night, scoring twice against Cameroon in a 4-0 win in front of a number of scouts.
Other interested clubs
Arsenal are not the only club to be linked with a move for Mandzukic. Jose Mourinho is also reportedly keen to bring the striker to Stamford Bridge despite the fact Diego Costa is already set to sign for Chelsea.
Manchester United are also believed to be monitoring the striker's situation but it is Arsenal who look most keen to agree a deal.
However, Wenger only wants to get a cut-price deal in place for Mandzukic as a backup option should the move for Balotelli fall through. Mandzukic is available for a cut price deal, but Wenger has £100 million to spend and would prefer to spend more to get the younger Balotelli despite the heavy price tag.
AC Milan ready to sell
AC Milan are ready to cash in on the 23-year-old despite the fact he has impressed since joining from Manchester City in January 2013. With new manager Filippo Inzaghi keen to start afresh at the San Siro, raising funds through the sale of Balotelli is seen a key to his summer plans.
Arsenal have been told to pay at least £25 million for the youngster and it seems Wenger is ready to take a punt on the striker with reports suggesting a £180,000-a-week wage packet will be offered when the two parties meet on Saturday in Brazil.
Balotelli is keen on a return to the Premier League after growing tired with life in Italy, where he claims racial abuse is a weekly occurrence. However, agreeing a mega money deal is not simple and plenty of complications stand in the way of a deal being agreed.
It is, therefore, a sensible move from Wenger to secure a backup option in the form of Mandzukic. Arsenal cannot afford not to sign an established striker this summer having relied so heavily of Olivier Giroud last season.
They have since lost both Nicklas Bendtner and Chu Young Park and have only two recognised strikers in the squad.