Arsenal have stepped up their interest in Bordeaux forward Malcom as they plan for life after Alexis Sanchez, Goal understands.
The Gunners are one of three Premier League clubs interested in Malcom, with Manchester United and Tottenham also plotting a January move.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is willing to let Alexis join Manchester City this month, but is holding out for £35 million and also wants to secure a suitable replacement .
Goal understands Monaco’s Thomas Lemar is still a key target for the London club, although the French club’s asking price, thought to be around £60m, is regarded as unrealistic. Arsenal are willing to pay up to £40m for the winger – much less than their offer for him on transfer deadline day last summer which totaled £92m inclusive of add-ons.
They are keeping their options open, however, and the 20-year-old Malcom is regarded as a viable alternative as he has been watched closely by the club’s France scout, former player Gilles Grimandi, throughout this season, during which he has netted seven goals and created four more in 18 Ligue 1 appearances.
Additionally, Arsenal’s new head of recruitment Sven Mislintat attempted to sign the Brazilian last summer and is a known admirer of the player. Mislintat has already been busy in the January transfer window for Arsenal, signing Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos from PAS Giannina, while it’s understood that the German has also contacted the agent of Boca Juniors starlet Cristian Pavon via an intermediary on behalf of the Gunners.
Arsenal have made contact with Malcom’s representatives in recent days and it is expected that a more formal meeting, to be held in London, will take place by the end of the week.
Multiple sources close to the player have insisted that no concrete offers have been made to Bordeaux, but that is expected to change this month given the three interested clubs have all been asked to be kept informed of the situation.
Bordeaux have previously stated that there is no chance of the young Brazilian being allowed to leave in January, and Goal reported at Christmas that United would be willing to loan him back to the Ligue 1 side for the rest of the season if they are able to strike a deal in the coming weeks.
Sources have told Goal that while it will be “difficult” to bring the forward to England in January, it is not impossible.
Goal have also reported that Arsenal were yet to make their interest known to the player’s entourage before Christmas, but that has changed in the opening days of the winter transfer window.