Arsenal using reports of £45m transfer budget as a ‘smokescreen’ to sign Wilfried Zaha

Liverpool FC v Crystal Palace - Premier League

Arsenal have been ridiculed in the wake of their initial approach to sign Wilfried Zaha from Crystal Palace.

The Gunners tabled an offer of £40 million to be spread over the next five years, which was met with a firm ‘no’ from Selhurst Park.

Palace are said to want £80 million for Zaha - who last season contributed ten goals and five assists in the most prolific of his career to date.

Arsenal will do everything in their power to avoid paying full noise for the Ivorian - not least because the Eagles’ demands are almost double their reported transfer budget.

However, perhaps all is not quite as it seems.

Arsenal are widely expected to return to the negotiation table with Palace, but their next bid could come as something of a surprise given what’s been said about their summer finances.

According to Sky Sports journalist Kaveh Solhekol, the club are attempting to use talk of their modest cash reserves as an advantage.

“We have kept reading that, £45m,” he said.

“People are thinking, 'why are Arsenal trying to sign a player who Crystal Palace are saying is worth £80m, when they only have £45m?'

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“What I have been told is that it suits Arsenal that people think they only have £45m, because when they get into negotiations over a player, the selling club is going to think Arsenal don't have much money.

“What I have been told is that this is a bit of a smokescreen and Arsenal can go up to £70m to buy Wilfried Zaha. £70m is the point at which they would walk away. A deal that would be worth £70m in total.

“We just have to take it with a pinch of salt that Arsenal only have £45m. They are one of the biggest clubs in the world. We are not talking about £300m for Neymar, this is £70m in total. I think Arsenal can do that.”

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Zaha is away with Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations and has refused to fuel the speculation over his future.

The 26-year-old was asked about Arsenal’s interest in his services after Les Elephants’ 4-1 victory over Namibia on Monday, to which he replied: “I don't know we'll see in the future.”

Meanwhile, Barcelona entered the equation by offering Malcom as an alternative option if Zaha remains in South London, per the Mirror.

The Catalan giants are willing to cash in on the £37 million signing of last summer as they seek to fund moves for both Neymar and Antoine Griezmann.

Is Zaha worth £80 million or should Arsenal consider a cheaper winger in Malcom? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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