Ange Postecoglou previews Arsenal clash
Arsenal have no plans to withdraw their interest in Sporting teenager Ousmane Diomande, according to reports. The youngster is tied to a £70million release clause, but the Gunners are keeping track of the situation ahead of the transfer window reopening in January.
Senior figures at the Emirates Stadium were first alerted to Diomande when he came off the bench in Arsenal’s Europa League round of 16 clash with Sporting last March. The Ivorian then started the second leg as the Portuguese giants pulled off a major upset by advancing to the quarter-finals on penalties.
Since then, according to A Bola, Arsenal have refused to let Diomande out of their sight. The Portuguese newspaper reports that the Londoners have already seen a bid in the region of £30m rejected.
Sporting are thought to be keen on playing the long game, with the 19-year-old only set to appreciate in value as he becomes a household name for club and country.
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To fend off interest, Sporting have made the starlet a regular starter at centre-back and handed him a contract until 2027. The agreement reportedly includes a £70m release clause.
Diomande has notched two goals and an assist from central defence already this campaign, with Sporting undefeated after five domestic games and getting their Europa League campaign off to a winning start against Sturm Graz.
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Scouts from various clubs are believed to have attended the European contest, which saw Diomande score an 84th-minute winner. The 6ft 3in prodigy came through in Denmark with Midtjylland before joining Sporting in January, and he has since been rewarded for his stellar progress with a senior Ivory Coast call-up.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta already has plenty of options at his disposal in central defence. William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White are currently vying for two spots, while Jakub Kiwior is expected to grow into his role within the squad and Jurrien Timber will have a part to play when he returns from a long injury lay-off.
Like Sporting, Arsenal have made an unbeaten start to the league season with four wins and a draw from their first five matches. They also celebrated their return to the Champions League with a resounding 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven in midweek.
Arteta has spent the past few days gearing his side up for an altogether different test, however, as they host bitter rivals Tottenham on Sunday afternoon.
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