Arsenal ‘gathering intel’ on AFCON wonderkid as Edu weighs up paying £68m release clause | Football | Sport

Arsenal have reportedly sent scouts to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in the hope of getting a closer look at Ousmane Diomande. The Ivory Coast youngster is being tracked by a host of top European sides, with Gunners sporting director Edu weighing up whether to beat his rivals to the punch by triggering his release clause.

The prospects of Arsenal stumping up £68million to prise Diomande away from Sporting before the end of the month are slim. But the north Londoners are among those posturing ahead of a hard-fought transfer battle in the summer.

Portuguese outlet A Bola claim that Chelsea, Newcastle, Manchester City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Juventus are all keen on the 20-year-old. Arsenal are also involved, and Edu reportedly has eyes on Diomande during his AFCON escapades with Ivory Coast.

Scouts are believed to be on a ‘special mission’ to compile ‘detailed reports’ on the centre-back, who moved from Danish side Midtjylland to Sporting in a bargain £6.4m deal last year.

The Portuguese giants are poised to turn a monster profit if their exciting talent continues performing at a high level for the remainder of the season. On the international stage, Diomande is keeping Bayer Leverkusen star Odilon Kossounou out of the team in the heart of defence.

Already a towering 6ft 3in presence, the youngster clearly has the physical capabilities to cope with the Premier League. And Edu could act in the summer to provide competition for William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes at centre-back.

Defender Jakub Kiwior is also the subject of frequent speculation, having been used sparingly by manager Mikel Arteta since his £20m move from Spezia last January.

Arsenal are believed to have blocked all routes leading back to Serie A, although they may be forced to change their tune if Diomande arrives at the Emirates Stadium, which would surely limit Kiwior’s game time even further.

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