Arsenal are set to make Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez their first signing of the summer transfer window after the club began attempts to sign a replacement for the Algeria international. The Foxes value Mahrez at £50m and he appears destined to move to The Emirates Stadium having come in for praise from manager Arsene Wenger.
The Sun report the 2015-16 Premier League champions are consigned to losing Mahrez this summer and have identified Swansea City's Gylfi Sigurdsson as their preferred option to replace him. The King Power Stadium club are plotting a £30m move for the Icelander, but face competition from Tottenham Hotspur and Everton.
After leading Leicester to the title - winning the PFA Players' Player of the Year award in the process - Mahrez endured a lean campaign last term with just 10 goals and seven assists coming in all competitions. The 26-year-old was linked with a move to Arsenal last summer and that move looks like coming to fruition 12 months on having declared his intent to leave this summer.
Wenger has made no secret of his admiration of Mahrez, whose exploits in 2016 saw him nominated for the Ballon d'Or award. Arsenal have not yet submitted a bid for the wideman but the French boss has dropped a major hint he could be an imminent addition for the Gunners.
"We have not made a bid for him but personally I like the player, yes. I think he had a huge impact at Leicester when they won the championship, like everybody else," Wenger told beIN Sports. "It's been a different season this year but it doesn't take anything away from his qualities. Have we made a bid for him? No. Not yet. Not yet means it could happen, it could not happen."
Despite reports claiming Wenger has been given a transfer kitty said to be around £150m to improve his squad having failed to qualify for the Champions League - after signing a new two-year deal to stay at The Emirates Stadium - he has already scaled back expectations ahead of the summer. The 67-year-old says only between two and three new players will arrive in the off-season; a declaration which will likely swell the scorn towards the Arsenal boss from the club's fans.
"We can spend money because we have managed the club well," said Wenger, who came in for scathing criticism during the latter part of the season amid on-the-field struggles. "Let's not forget the amount of money spent is not a guarantee of success. We have to be clear what we understand as a big signing. Is [Rob] Holding a big signing for you or not?
"When you buy a player for £40m, everybody will have at the start a positive judgement. When you buy him for £2m, he can't be good? That means a big signing is not necessarily linked with the amount of money spent."