Barcelona have joined European champions Bayern Munich in the race to sign Arsenal centre-back Laurent Koscielny. Spanish publication Sport believes the Catalans have settled on the Gunners' defending after exhausting several other possibilities. The Bavarians' interest in the French international was revealed in April amid rumours he was to be a signing specifically requested by incoming manager Pep Guardiola.
According to Sport, the Spanish champions earlier considered former AC Milan star Thiago Silva, Manchester City's Vincent Kompany, Chelsea's David Luiz and Valencia's Jeremy Mathieu. Paris St Germain's Silva and the Blues' goal scoring enforcer were thought to be the preferred targets but neither Brazilian international would have come cheaply.
Silva signed last summer in a €42m deal, has four years left on his contract and is a key member of PSG's back four. Luiz, meanwhile, is likely to be as expensive, with a Mail Online report pegging his value at upwards of €45m.
Of course, with Jose Mourinho returning to Stamford Bridge and Carlo Ancelotti likely to leave the Ligue 1 champions for Real Madrid, the position of both Luiz and Silva could change, if the new boss at each club has other ideas. Mourinho, for example, could sell Luiz to bankroll his summer spending; the club have been linked with a £39.4m offer for Brazilian striker Hulk.
Nevertheless, for now it appears Tito Vilanova has settled on the 27-year-old Koscielny, who could be available for as little as €15m, according to Sport. The Frenchman signed a long-term contract with Arsenal last summer but the length of that agreement was never revealed.
Sport suggests Barcelona have already opened talks with the Premier League club over a transfer. It will be interesting to see if Arsene Wenger can persuade Koscielny to remain in north London, given the stream of players who have swapped the Emirates for the Nou Camp; Cesc Fabregas in 2011 and Alex Song in 2012 were perhaps the most high-profile.
Wenger does hold the key though. Koscielny has revealed he is hungry for trophies and wants his club to invest in big-name and experienced players to end a nearly decade-long trophy drought.
"I want to lift trophies and to have a winning record. I hope the club will give me the means. If this weren't the case, I'd look elsewhere. I want to win titles and I hope the club have the means," he admitted.
The good news is the Gunners do have a massive summer budget, believed to be £70m, to spend. And they have been linked with record bids for Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain. However, there is a worrying lack of significant transfer activity on the club's part, which could convince Koscielny to leave for Barcelona.