Barcelona are reportedly preparing to make an official enquiry over the availability of Arsenal's Mesut Ozil when they travel to the Emirates Stadium next week to take on the Gunners in the Champions League.
The fact that Ozil has not yet signed a new contract with Arsenal has sparked recent rumours that he may be open to a move this summer to Barca, per Marca (h/t Callum Davis in the Telegraph).
The Germany international has been arguably Arsenal's most important player this season, providing 17 assists and scoring four goals in 24 matches as the Gunners have closed to within two points of the top of the Premier League.
He is contracted to Arsenal until 2018 having signed a five-year deal upon his £42.5 million arrival from Real Madrid in 2013.
The Gunners will be loath to let his contract run down much further, but as yet he has not penned a new deal.
But, given his previous links with Real—the Catalan club's archrivals—he may not be open to joining Barca, and he also insisted late last year that he is "very happy" at Arsenal, per Kicker (via James Orr in the Independent).
As suggested by Giles, the latest rumours could very well be "a ploy on the behalf of Ozil’s agents," in an attempt to get the German as good a deal as possible.
It is certainly not uncommon when new terms are being negotiated, just look at Sergio Ramos' links to Manchester United that preceded him signing a big-money new contract with Real last summer.
Elsewhere, the Gunners have been dealt a big blow in their reported pursuit of Real midfielder Isco after the Spaniard admitted he is happy at the Bernabeu.
The Sun's Duncan Wright recently reported that Arsenal had secured a £35 million deal to sign the 23-year-old from Los Blancos in the summer.
But now Isco himself has indicated he is staying put, per AS (via the Daily Star's Chisanga Malata):
Happy? I’m always happy.
I’m at Real Madrid and it’s difficult to play all the matches. I worked hard under [Rafael] Benitez and more under [Zinedine] Zidane.
I’m playing more now, sometimes other teammates play, and it’s important everyone is prepared.
We have two competitions that are very long and we have to be 100 per cent.
Bleacher Report's Dean Jones previously criticised Gunners boss Arsene Wenger for failing to sign a new forward in January:
Given Isco's ability to play centrally or on either flank, he could have been a fine addition at the Emirates, but Arsenal's chances of signing him in the summer now seem slim.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!