Arsenal 'Desperate' to Beat Manchester United to Andrija Zivkovic Signing

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 19, 2018

LISBON, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 3: SL Benfica forward Andrija Zivkovic from Serbia in action during the Primeira Liga match between SL Benfica and Rio Ave FC at Estadio da Luz on February 3, 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)
Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Arsenal are said to be ramping up their efforts to recruit Benfica winger Andrija Zivkovic this summer and are reportedly "desperate" to beat Manchester United to his signature.

Zivkovic played the full 90 minutes of Benfica's 2-0 win away at Feirense on Saturday, and Portuguese newspaper O Jogo (h/t Daily Mirror) reported a delegation from the Emirates Stadium was on hand to survey his talent.

The 21-year-old has played the large bulk of Benfica career off the right flank but has demonstrated malleability across the attack, also featuring on the left wing and through attacking midfield.

Saturday's fixture wasn't the first time this season the Gunners have monitored Zivkovic; Metro's Primeira Liga expert Jan Hagen previously reported on the number of clubs seemingly interested in the player:

Arsenal only recently brought one right-sided specialist, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, to the club in place of Alexis Sanchez—now at Manchester United—although manager Arsene Wenger could have other plans for the Serb.

Zivkovic has scored three goals and recorded three assists in 14 league appearances this season. The youngster has made 23 appearances in all competitions, one fewer than the number he racked up in all contests last term.

United's acquisition of Sanchez has led to competition for places on their left wing, meaning Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have shifted to the less natural right flank at times since his arrival.

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The English interest is said to run deep, and Sport Witness recently referenced a report from Portuguese newspaper Record highlighting the intrigue of Championship hopefuls Fulham:

Premier League fans will recall previous examples of Serbian imports from Benfica; United's Nemanja Matic starred at Chelsea before moving to current home Old Trafford, whereas Liverpool's investment in winger Lazar Markovic proved far less valuable.

Zivkovic has thus far followed the same career path as Markovic, moving to Lisbon after spending some years developing at Serbian powerhouse Partizan Belgrade, but the latter now finds himself on loan at Anderlecht.

Any club looking to purchase the wide technician may also be forced to pay big after Sport Witness' Lucas Sposito reported in December that he has a €60 million release clause in his Eagles contract.

Zivkovic has a deal at the Estadio da Luz that runs until the summer of 2021, but Arsenal's efforts to replenish their stock of young, promising attackers could see them pounce for a deal sooner.