Arsenal have re-ignited their interest in Portuguese International and Benfica central defender Ruben Dias as they seek a replacement for Laurent Koscielny.
As Arsenal’s search for a central defender was ongoing, club captain Laurent Koscielny has provided Unai Emery and the Gunners board with an additional problem. The defender has made it clear he wishes to depart, leaving Arsenal with another task at finding a replacement. Their search, according to The Mail has taken them back to Benfica for centre-half Ruben Dias.
Arsenal wishes to replace Koscielny with Dias as Emery revisits his previously compiled list of targets. Dias was considered as an initial target, even before the season ended. However, since losing the Europa League Final and finishing outside of Champions League places, Arsenal had to re-consider their interest owing to Dias’ hefty release clause which stands at £54 million.
The Gunners’ decision to re-kindle their interest in Dias comes after Koscielny’s demanded his departure from the club. The Frenchman, who still has a year left on his deal wants a move away from the club and to get his wish has refused to travel to Arsenal’s pre-season tour to the USA.
His action has forced the club to open disciplinary actions against Koscielny although there has been no news on that front so far. In fact, the club have not stripped him off his captain’s armband yet. Koscielny was earlier linked with a move away to Borussia Dortmund, although he might want to move back to France. The Gunners, if they sell, want £10 million for their captain.
So with Koscielny forcing through a departure and Arsenal also looking to sell Shkodran Mustafi, Emery will have a shortage of senior defenders at the club and wants to buy some replacements. While Arsenal are closing in on a deal for William Saliba, they are also looking for someone with more experience and Dias is the name on the list.
Now with the restricted budget, Arsenal are hoping to negotiate with Benfica to lower the asking price and compensate the rest through bonus payments. It’s only a matter of time before Arsenal are expected to submit their offer, although its unclear if Benfica would accept those terms for one of their top performers.
Dias has plenty of clubs lining behind him. Apart from some faint interest from Real Madrid earlier, Manchester United were thought to be keen on the defender. Juventus too were in the running, although their top defensive priority remains Matthijs de Ligt. Now that Arsenal have joined the race, Benfica might take their chances into selling the defender, but only for the right offer.
Dias could fit in well at Arsenal, but its still unsure if the Gunners will make a concrete offer for the central defender. Arsenal does not have the necessary funds to pull this off in one shot, while its a question if Benfica will accept anything less than his release clause. Overall, he has a future with club football and at International level, and his next move could be decided in the coming days.