Arsenal have intensified efforts to sign Ousmane Diomande, will scout him at AFCON

Arsenal have intensified efforts to sign Sporting Lisbon defender Ousmane Diomande, according to Portuguese publication Record (page 11).

The Gunners have been following the centre-back closely since his time at Midtjylland. They were interested in signing him last winter, but Sporting won the race for an initial fee of €8 million.

Mikel Arteta’s side returned for the Ivorian last summer with a €35m offer, but Sporting made it clear that they would not accept anything less than his current release clause of €80m.

The north London giants are set to return for his services this year and Record claim that they have intensified their efforts as they prepare a fresh approach.

It is reported that the Gunners will have an emissary at the African Cup of Nations to closely monitor and give special attention to the games involving Diomande.

Arsenal lining up summer move for Diomande

The Gunners have had troubles at the back over the past few games. They could do with a quality centre-back in Diomande, who would provide serious competition for places.

The Ivorian has a pass completion rate of 91 per cent in the Primeira Liga this term. He has made almost six ball recoveries per game alongside 1.5 tackles and 1.7 clearances.

He is also well equipped when it comes to aerial challenges and has won 72 per cent of his duels. Diomande would be a fine acquisition but a winter deal seems unlikely.

Arsenal are expected to prioritise a marquee striker for January. Brentford’s Ivan Toney could be the prime target but a deal may depend on Eddie Nketiah heading for an exit.

Diomande could be pursued at the end of the campaign where Sporting could be willing to negotiate a lower price than the current buy-out clause in his long-term deal.

Chelsea and Newcastle United have also been linked with the youngster, but they are also facing Financial Fair Play concerns and may not afford to activate the clause this month.

It is also unlikely that Diomande will choose to join either of those clubs, considering they are lying tenth and ninth in the standings after the midway stage of the league season.

Stats from Transfermarkt.com & Sofascore.com

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