Arsenal seek to beat Chelsea, Man Utd to £17.5m transfer because of Aubameyang exit fears
Arsenal have made it clear Gent’s Jonathan David is one of their top summer targets as they draw up contingency plans in case Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette leave the club at the end of the season, according to reports.
Express Sport understands David is on the radar of Chelsea, with Frank Lampard impressed by reports on the American-born attacker having had scouts watch him in KAA Gent’s Europa League round of 32 second-leg draw with Roma.
And Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester are among a host of other Premier League clubs looking at the Canadian international.
But Goal say that Arsenal are also seeing tabs on the frontman and that they have watched him play his trade in Belgium on a regular basis throughout the season.
The report adds that David is one of the Gunners’ primary targets headed into the summer, as they prepare for the possibility that both of their big-name strikers – Aubameyang and Lacazette – will leave.
Aubameyang enters the final 12 months of his contract this summer and will be able to leave for free in 2021 if Arsenal do not tie him down to a new contract or sell him later this year.
Lacazette, meanwhile, will be into the last two years of his existing agreement with Arsenal hierarchy having made it clear they do not want to keep players in their prime years going into the final 24 months of their deals to prevent losing stars for free or for cut-price fees.
That means if neither of the pair commit themselves to new deals, Arsenal may be forced to cash in on their prized assets and restructure their squad.
Goal say that contract talks with the pair have been on hold for some time and that while the pair are happy at Arsenal, they are unlikely to qualify for the Champions League next season meaning they could push for exits.
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David is prominent in Arsenal’s thoughts as they draw up a list of replacements for Aubameyang and Lacazette.
The 20-year-old has 23 goals and 10 assists from 39 appearances this season having played in attacking midfield for much of the campaign, also playing as a centre forward and a left-sided winger.
David, who was born in New York, also boasts 11 goals in 12 games for Canada having made his international debut in September 2018.
He scored six times in four games at the Gold Cup last summer, although Canada were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by Haiti.
While there is no release clause in his contract, a bid of around £17.5million could be enough to prise David away from Gent, say Goal.
The player is keen to move on after two years in Belgium with the Premier League slated as an appealing option to the forward.
However, a switch to Germany or France could be more likely, while Arsenal acting on their interest is said to depend on whether there are outgoings from Mikel Arteta’s squad.
After Aubameyang and Lacazette, the Spanish boss currently has teenager Gabriel Martinelli and 20-year-old Eddie Nketiah available as back-up options.
David’s agent Nick Mavromaras recently dropped a major hint that a move to Arsenal may be a step too high for David at this point in his career.
“Without a doubt: Jonathan is ready for the next step,” Mavromaras said. “Gent has boosted his career, the club did a lot for him.
“I understand that they would like to keep him longer, but Jonathan wants to go ahead.
“The Belgian league is fantastic for young players, but the moment for the next step arrives and this will come in the summer.
“His final target is to play for one of the best five clubs in the world. But for now, we have to stay humble.
“The next step in his career can’t be too big. For example, Arsenal. There we speak about the top five in the Premier League.
“The next step has to be an intelligent one. There, this would possibly be a step too big at the moment.
“The whole package has to be right. An intermediate step can be better sometimes.”
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