Arsenal have identified Southampton centre-back Dejan Lovren as a potential replacement for club captain Thomas Vermaelen, who wants to join Manchester United after falling out of favour at the Emirates Stadium. The Croatia international submitted a transfer request to the Saints earlier this month and could become the latest in a string of players to quit St Mary’s.
According to talkSPORT, Arsenal would need to offer around £15 million for the former Lyon defender, who enjoyed an excellent debut campaign in the Premier League last term. Southampton paid £8.5 million for the centre-back last summer, but several clubs are expected to meet the south-coast club’s valuation.
Stiff competition from Tottenham and Liverpool
The Gunners face stiff competition for Lovren’s signature from fierce north London rivals Tottenham and Liverpool, who are expected to complete the £25 million signing of Southampton playmaker Adam Lallana before the end of the day.
Both Spurs and Liverpool, like Arsenal, have significant funds to spend in the current transfer window - so whichever club is most determined to sign the Croatian is likely to secure his services.
First-team football assurances
Arsenal, however, may struggle to guarantee Lovren first-team football. The reason Vermaelen has endured such a frustrating time at the Emirates Stadium over the past 18 months is because of the excellent partnership of centre-back duo Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.
At 24, Lovren has age on his side and would presumably displace one of them in the starting line-up eventually, but it would take time - and he might have a better chance of securing regular first-team football at either White Hart Lane or Anfield.
Southampton have already sold Rickie Lambert and Luke Shaw, while Lallana is poised to follow. Subsequently, new Saints’ boss Ronald Koeman will be determined to retain the services of the club’s best centre-back.
That could prove easier said than done, however, with the player desperate to leave St Mary’s in order to play Champions League football. He reportedly notified his desire to quit Southampton in an email sent to Les Reed and chairman Ralph Krueger prior to the start of the World Cup finals in Brazil.
Tottenham favourites to sign Lovren
As things stand, Tottenham - now managed by former Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino - are leading the race to sign Lovren ahead of Liverpool.
Spurs are optimistic that the superb working relationship between the defender and their new head coach will pave the way for a transfer to be completed - leaving Arsenal forced to consider other targets.
Arsenal fans - do you want Lovren at the Emirates Stadium? Here's a video which may help you to decide...