Arsenal are preparing to raid Brazil yet again after identifying Palmeiras youngster Danilo as the ideal signing to bolster their increasingly depleted midfield, according to reports.
The Gunners are light on options in the centre of the pitch after Ainsley Maitland-Niles joined Roma on loan until the end of the season, while Thomas Partey is playing in the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana.
Manager Mikel Arteta conceded that his squad was suddenly ‘very short’ in midfield and revealed the club were open to bringing in reinforcements this month if the right deal presented itself.
Now Brazilian outlet R7 claim Arsenal have lodged a bid worth up to €25million (£21m) for Palmeiras midfielder Danilo – though a deal could be difficult to pull off.
The Brazilian club are keen to keep hold of the 20-year-old this month as they are participating in the Club World Cup in February, while he has a contract until 2025.
Danilo is very highly rated and has a release clause of £86m, far more than the fee Arsenal have offered which is worth €20million up front plus another €5m in bonuses.
However, that could still be enough to prise him away from Palmeiras if Danilo pushes for a move, with the club conscious that it would be a massive opportunity for him.
Arsenal technical director Edu is leading the chase for Danilo and has a vast knowledge of Brazilian football, raiding his homeland in the past to sign Gabriel Martinelli from Ituano and Spanish centre-back Pablo Mari from Flamengo.
Arteta has made little secret of the fact he is keen to bring in a new midfielder – and striker – this month, saying Maitland-Niles’ departure had left the team light in midfield.
He explained: ‘We are very, very short at the moment, but to be fair on a player this cannot be the only argument to try to keep a player, and a player who has been developed and raised through our Academy, and a player that has been patient in many moments to try to fulfil his dream.
‘He was very straight with me, and I understood the situation and (for him) it’s a good option. So obviously we are going to move, and we are going to look for options, because we are very short.’
Jack Wilshere has been training with the Gunners as he looks for a new club but Arteta ruled out offering the 30-year-old a permanent deal, while Serie A top scorer Dusan Vlahovic and Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak are the strikers on Arsenal’s wish list.