Arsenal will reportedly go head-to-head with Manchester City for the £29 million signing of Real Madrid ace Angel Di Maria.
Paul Brown of the Daily Star believes both Premier League sides have shown an interest in the versatile winger who, despite an excellent season, remains in the shadows cast by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at the Bernabeu:
Both City and Arsenal have targeted Di Maria in the past, and they will face competition from Monaco and Paris St-Germain if he leaves.
But sources in Spain claim both Premier League clubs have already contacted Real to ask about the 26-year-old's availability.
Should Arsenal pursue the transfer of Angel Di Maria?
John Cross of the Mirror also believes Arsenal are in for the Argentinian, saying, "Real may be willing to cut their losses and sell Di Maria for around £25 million, according to reports in Spain."
Arsenal are no strangers to doing business with Real. Mesut Ozil famously switched from the Spanish capital to London last year in a deal worth £42 million, with his initial Premier League season throwing up spells of inconsistent form.
Deployed from the left or behind the striker, Ozil could be pushed into a permanent central role if Di Maria arrives. Arsene Wenger's team have long been without a traditional left-sided winger, someone to burst beyond opponents with raw speed, and they could use the dribbling skills of Di Maria to add a further sense of incision to their attack.
Wenger has warned any deals will take time, saying, "In my experience, in a World Cup year, the transfer business does not get done early," per Jack Gaughan of the Daily Mail.
The interest of City, PSG and Monaco may cause problems. Each have significant money to spend, but the English and French champions could be halted by their recently imposed financial fair play sanctions—which sees both clubs fined and receive squad caps in next season's Champions League—meted out by UEFA, per Richard Conway of BBC Sport.
Monaco's revolution is set to continue during the summer. The Stade Louis II is becoming more inviting with every transfer window, as the mega-rich club continues to attract stars such as Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez. Di Maria's arrival certainly isn't far-fetched.
The skillful player has scored seven goals in 43 appearances across La Liga and the Champions League this season, per WhoScored.com. He started the campaign particularly well, responding to the arrival of Bale with a stint of excellent form, and he has adapted well to the centre of the park.
He remains something of a utility man for Carlo Ancelotti, who has deployed Di Maria on both flanks and also from the centre. As Real's evolution continues, it appears the 26-year-old is likely to be overshadowed by Ronaldo and Bale to the point where a move becomes the right decision to progress his career.
As noted by Squawka, Di Maria can offer any club in Europe plenty of quality:
Cesc Fabregas & Koke have 13 assists each in La Liga this season - only Angel di Maria (15) has managed more in Europe's top 5 leagues.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 13, 2014
Arsenal would undoubtedly be a smart fit for the rapid forward. Wenger's team move the ball quickly, look to sweep forward on the counter and need extra precision when delivering crosses into the box. Di Maria's presence would also add greater balance to a team that features Theo Walcott on the right flank (when he's fit).
Coming up against that sort of pace doesn't happen often. Arsenal's interlinking play would be amplified with Di Maria added to the side, who'd likely operate between the midfield and forward line, coming in from the left. Wenger certainly needs to splash decent funds if the Gunners are to continue competing with their English rivals, let alone offer greater resistance in the Champions League.