Barcelona have reportedly made Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang their "top target" for the January transfer window.
The Blaugrana are short of centre-forward options with Luis Suarez expected to be out for the next four months following knee surgery.
According to Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph, they are keen to add a striker to their ranks this month and have put the Gunners star first on their list of potential acquisitions.
"Although head coach Mikel Arteta has insisted he wants to keep Aubameyang until at least the end of the season, Barca hope that Gabriel Martinelli’s good form may tempt Arsenal into a late rethink," Law added.
It's noted that the Blaugrana "fear" Arsenal would demand a fee in the region of £50 million for their star goalscorer, even though Aubameyang has just 18 months to run on his contract in north London. Law also said that reports in Spain claiming the player has agreed personal terms with the La Liga side are wide of the mark.
Law noted that Arsenal are in a conundrum when it comes to Aubameyang's future and the player potentially losing value:
Matt Law @Matt_Law_DT
Would Arsenal fans rather sell Aubameyang this week (and reinvest the money immediately) or wait until the summer and risk him going anyway for less? That's the choice they will face with Barca set to make an inquiry. Rodrigo already lined up as Barca's first-choice alternative. https://t.co/gOOVSgIJu1
The 30-year-old was made club captain earlier in the season, with former skipper Granit Xhaka stripped of the honour following his infamous substitution against Crystal Palace.
While his leadership skills are clearly valued at the Emirates Stadium, the forward's goalscoring talent is just as vital, as Aubameyang has honed his reputation as one of the most ruthless finishers in world football.
Squawka Football summed up how much Arsenal depend on the Gabon international to finish chances:
His most recent strike came in the 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace, a game in which Aubameyang was later sent off for a rash challenge:
The striker is still suspended for that dismissal. While Gabriel Martinelli has come into the side and performed well in his absence, at 18, he still has plenty to learn about leading the line at the highest level.
Barcelona have some of the best attacking players in the world on their books in Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, but without Suarez, they lack someone who is a natural leading the line.
Per OptaJose, Messi sought to take responsibility in a blunt attack during Barcelona's 2-0 loss to Valencia on Saturday:
If the La Liga side were to make a significant offer for Aubameyang, then it's one Arsenal would have to consider. With the striker reportedly keen to move on, an extension appears unlikely at this stage, and the Gunners would not be able to demand a huge fee in the summer as a result.
From Barcelona's standpoint, there will surely be some hesitancy over parting with big money for a 30-year-old forward, especially given Suarez recently turned 33 and Messi is 32.