Arsenal are reportedly in the most "advanced" position to sign Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette after showing "concrete" interest in him.
According to L'Equipe (h/t Metro), the Gunners are at the front of the queue for the £60 million-valued forward, whose agreed move to Atletico Madrid fell through because of Los Rojiblancos' transfer embargo, which will prevent them from registering new players until January.
Lacazette previously held ambitions of playing in the UEFA Champions League, but he has since softened his stance and is open to joining a club in the UEFA Europa League.
Speculation was rife on Friday because of reported quotes from Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas.
The Independent's Jack Austin reported him as saying: "Lacazette was told he could leave. We had negotiations with Atletico. Things did not work out. We now have a very nice offer from Arsenal. But for us, he will not leave."
Meanwhile, according to Get French Football News, he said: "Lacazette was told he could leave…we had negotiations with Atletico. Things did not work out. I don't have any offers right now. I don't know if he wants to leave."
Bleacher Report's James McNicholas cautioned against believing the reported quotes, though French football writer Philippe Auclair noted Aulas has been inconsistent in his stance on Lacazette:
Philippe Auclair @PhilippeAuclair
@gunnerblog Aulas said one thing, its contrary, then something in between. Par for course with him these days. He's not going, he's going, I don't know.2017-6-16 10:45:18
Sport Witness dismissed the credibility of the quotes, but not L'Equipe's report:
Sport Witness @Sport_Witness
Part of L'Equipe feature on Lacazette, nothing to do with the fake Aulas quotes from Friday.2017-6-17 07:08:57
Lacazette netted 37 times in all competitions last season, and a similarly prolific campaign at Arsenal would do their chances of returning to the Champions League and challenging for the Premier League title a world of good.
The 26-year-old has reached the limit of what he's likely to achieve with Lyon and has shown he's worthy of a move to a top side. Arsenal may only be in the Europa League next season, but they could provide him with an excellent platform to take his career up a notch.
Meanwhile, Arsenal striker Lucas Perez is seemingly on his way out of the Emirates Stadium this summer, and according to his agent, he has attracted interest from former club Deportivo La Coruna and Sevilla.
Rodrigo Fernandez told Radio Galega (h/t the Daily Star's Colin Harvey): "The key date is July 3, when Arsenal's pre-season begins. Anything is possible. The president of Deportivo can do wonders while last year I met with Sevilla, who again are interested."
Perez grabbed a goal and an assist in his last game for Deportivo before switching to Arsenal in August last year, and despite playing just 948 minutes, he grabbed seven goals and five assists for the Gunners.
The Spaniard deserved a better chance, but he's not likely to accept that situation again next season, and it could only get worse if Lacazette or another top striker were to arrive.
Perez turns 29 in September and will most likely want to start every week or, at the least, enjoy a much more prominent squad role than he received. He's only realistically going to receive that by leaving, so it would not be surprising if he departs in the coming months.