Arsenal in contact with Barcelona star after missing out on Chelsea-bound Mudryk

Arsenal have opened talks with the agent of Barcelona winger Raphinha after Chelsea hijacked their deal for Mykhailo Mudryk.

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The Gunners believed they were on the verge of signing Ukraine international Mudryk in a deal worth around £80m.

Mikel Arteta is desperate to bolster his attacking options this month and the club identified Mudryk as their top January target.

But Chelsea have ruined their London rivals’ transfer plans by hijacking the move and agreeing a stunning £97m deal with Shakhtar Donetsk.

Mudryk, 22, has reportedly signed a seven-year deal at Chelsea and will undergo a medical on Sunday. He is then expected to attend Chelsea’s Premier League clash against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.

With Mudryk set to become a Chelsea player, Arsenal have been forced to turn their attentions elsewhere and have revived their interest in Raphinha, according to the Evening Standard.

It is claimed Arsenal chief Edu is in contact with Raphinha’s agent Deco, with Barcelona believed to be open to offers for the 26-year-old just six months after signing him from Leeds United.

Arsenal and Chelsea were both interested in signing Raphinha, 26, last summer but Barcelona secured his signature in a deal worth £55m.

Raphinha excelled at Elland Road but has endured an underwhelming start to his Barca career, scoring two goals in 21 appearances for the Spanish giants.

Barcelona are also said to be exploring the possibility of selling Raphinha’s team-mates Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres but Nou Camp legend Rivaldo hopes the trio stay at the club.

‘There are recent rumours about Barcelona potentially negotiating Ansu Fati, Ferran Torres or Raphinha transfers in order to aid their remaining financial problems that continue to harm the club,’ Rivaldo told Betfair.

‘Selling a player of Raphinha’s quality just six months after signing him would leave me very disappointed.

‘On one hand, it would end the player’s chance of making a name for himself at the club, and on the other hand it will give a sign to other players that they might want to think twice before deciding to join Barcelona in the future.

‘With Ansu Fati that would be even more incomprehensible since he has been seen as Lionel Messi’s successor for a while and giving up on him that easily would be a shock for me.

‘The club needs to retain their best players, especially the ones with great potential who could become our future stars.’

Premier League leaders Arsenal have the chance to move eight points clear when they travel across north London to face arch-rivals Tottenham on Sunday.

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