Arsenal are believed to be interested in Bayern Munich midfielder Luis Gustavo and are planning an £8m bid, according to the Metro. It is understood the German and European champions are willing to let the Brazilian leave, following the arrivals of German international Mario Götze and Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara this summer and that of Spaniard Javi Martinez last year.
Arsene Wenger reportedly wants Gustavo to replace Cameroon international Alex Song, who joined Barcelona last summer. Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini has also been linked to the holding midfield role at the Emirates but the Mirror believes the Gunners' manager is reluctant to meet the £23m asking price.
Gustavo made 20 starts and 15 substitute appearances, across all competitions, for the Bavarians last season, scoring four times in the Bundesliga. Primarily a defensive midfielder, the 25-year-old is capable of filling in at central or wide defensive positions if necessary, meaning he could be ideal cover for the injured Thomas Vermaelen.
Wenger faces competition for Gustavo's signature though, with Chelsea and German club Vfl Wolfsburg also interested. If reports of the Blues' interest are true then Wenger will have to do an awful lot better than £8m, given Jose Mourinho is expected to open the bidding at £16m.
"If you are looking to improve your team, and if the player is available for transfer, you have to discuss the name of Luiz Gustavo. We are interested in him and we have told his agent about that," Wolfsburg general manager Klaus Allofs told German newspaper Bild.
Gustavo has two years left on his contract and has refused to comment on speculation, saying: "What can I say? I am under contract until June 2015. We will have to wait and see how things turn out."
The South American midfielder's hand may be forced by the fact he could his place in Luiz Felipe Scolari's national team plans for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Brazil, as host nations and emphatic winners of this summer's FIFA Confederations Cup, will have considerable pressure on their shoulders in 2014 and will need hard-tackling midfielders like Gustavo to be on top form if they are to succeed.