Arsenal will reportedly launch a bid to sign Villarreal midfielder Pablo Fornals in January, with the player said to have a £17.8 million release clause in his contract.
Aaron Ramsey's expected departure from the Emirates Stadium next year has pushed manager Unai Emery to consider reinforcements, and the Mirror's Robert O'Connor reported Fornals, 22, has caught his attention.
Former Sevilla coach Emery may be familiar with Fornals from his time in La Liga, and the attacking midfielder has increased his profile after impressing in his second campaign with the Yellow Submarine.
The playmaker could follow in the footsteps of former Gunners favourite Santi Cazorla, who joined Arsenal after representing Villarreal and Malaga in Spain's top flight. Fornals now plays alongside Cazorla at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
The prospect has scored only once in 12 league appearances this season, though his strike against Athletic Bilbao in September was one to remember, via Eleven Sports:
Ramsey's contract at Arsenal is due to expire at the end of this season, and Bayern Munich has been mentioned as one potential destination for the soon-to-be free agent.
Fornals is an interesting prospect this winter, due to the fact Villarreal are 16th in La Liga and have two wins from 12 outings this campaign, meaning some at the Ceramica could be tempted to jump ship.
Emery has attracted praise for his fine start to life at Arsenal, meanwhile. The team is unbeaten in 16 games, and a number of summer signings have settled in well at the Emirates, including goalkeeper Bernd Leno and midfielders Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.
Fornals could prove to be a bargain if there's a chance of landing him for his rumoured release-clause value, and journalist Charles Watts said head of recruitment Sven Mislintat has a long-standing interest:
It's understood Emery wants a January deal in order to give Fornals time to settle into his new surroundings before Ramsey leaves. Then, when the Welshman departs in the summer, Fornals would be ready to assume his role.
His creative quality stands out even more when compared alongside Ousmane Dembele, who cost Barcelona a reported €105 million plus add-ons last year, per WhoScored.com:
Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are each capable of filling the No. 10 role in Emery's setup, and Fornals brings a similar versatility in that he can also feature on the flanks.
Arsenal's chief has done a good job thus far in adding new talent to the midfield, but any deal to land Fornals at the prescribed cost would be his best deal in the position to date.