Arsenal's pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain just became a little clearer thanks to comments made by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis today.
The Gunners have been competing with the likes of Atletico Madrid and Juventus for the Argentinian striker for much of the summer, but just how much they'd have to pay to bring him to The Emirates has been the subject of much debate.
Now, though, De Laurentiis has put the ball firmly in Arsenal's court after revealing exactly what offer he turned down from Atletico last month in a message clearly directed at the north London club.
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In comments translated by Sky Sports and Guardian journalist Fabrizio Romano, the Napoli president spelt out what he had already turned down for Higuain:
The remark will likely be met with disappointment at Arsenal, and it certainly appears to be another sign that Napoli are unwilling to let their star striker leave for much under the €94.7 million release clause in his contract.
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Indeed, only yesterday ESPN quoted De Laurentiis as admitting as much:
"All this chit-chat is meaningless. Gonzalo has another two years on his contract and if nobody comes with an offer equal to his release clause then he's staying at Napoli."
The right offer
Nevertheless, Arsenal had believed to have been attempting to circumnavigate the huge buy-out clause valuation by making an offer involving some of their current squad and a fee in the region of £50 million.
The name most regularly mentioned to be used as a makeweight in any such deal has been French striker Olivier Giroud, who's place in the starting line up a lot of Arsenal fans would like to see Higuain take.
De Laurentiis' defiant statement today, however, could put a spanner in the works. Although the Napoli executive didn't reveal the identities of the two players offered by Atletico Madrid, it seems unlikely that he would be willing to sell Higuain for cash and just the one player from Arsenal.
There is one silver lining for the Gunners, though. He did at least leave the door open for the Premier League side to continue pursuing his player.
That is in stark contrast to Juventus having claimed that Higuain would be betraying the Neapolitan people if he left to join the Old Lady.
With only a few weeks to go until the 2016/17 Premier League season gets underway Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board don't have long to figure out their next move.
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