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Arsenal: Lacazette latest; hint at Mahrez progress; Swansea centre-back option

Former Millwall and Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino is an unlikely source of Arsenal transfer news, but last night claimed that a deal for Alexandre Lacazette could be reached by the end of the week.

Speaking on Sky Sports News, Cascarino said ‘people in France’ had told him that Arsenal were pressing ahead with negotiations and that a conclusion could be imminent.

Arsenal have already seen a £29.3 million bid for Lacazette rejected this summer, but have been left with few other options with a paucity of forwards on the market.

Cascarino did spend six years in France with Marseille and Nancy near the end of his career, so it can be assumed he has a reasonable contact list.

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Arsene Wenger has pursued forwards of the stature of Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuaín and Karim Benzema in past summers, but it looks as though Wenger has accepted that they are out of his reach.

Lacazette is not his dream signing, but has scored 72 goals in 142 league starts for Lyon. Whether he can replicate this form in a more difficult league is the quandary.

Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante have shown there it talent to be unearthed in French football, but Arsenal fans will remember that Marouane Chamakh was also a regular Ligue 1 goal-scorer.

Perhaps Arsene Wenger is planning to supplement this signing with a top-class wide player and the Arsenal boss smiled knowingly when asked about an interest in Mahrez.

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Wenger attended Leicester’s pre-season friendly with Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday to further fuel speculation, though it should be noted that Arsenal play Leicester on the 20th August.

Rumours that Wenger was there to scout Mahrez are surely wide of the mark (he watched him every week last season after all) and given his desire for secrecy in the market, it is unlikely he was meeting Mahrez’s representatives in plain sight.

Arsenal are yet to make a formal approach for the Algerian, but it would be most surprising if they sat on their hands for the rest of the window if Mahrez indicates he is interested.

Some might say that Mahrez plays in a position that is not a priority for Arsenal, but what team could say no to a player capable of reaching double figures for both goals and assists from a wide position.

Arsenal’s search for a centre-back continues to throw up names, with Shkodran Mustafi and Jonny Evans suggestions over the weekend.

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The Sun are now suggesting that Arsenal will make a move for Swansea City centre-back Federico Fernandez, though with the Swans potentially losing Ashley Williams to Everton, they could be reluctant to sell.

Arsenal already have four centre-halves in their senior squad despite Mertesacker’s injury, but Wenger has insisted he wants more experience despite Rob Holding impressing in pre-season.

A decade or so ago, Wenger may have gambled and thrown one of his younger charges into the deep-end, but he is well aware of the need for strong results from the outset next term, with the atmosphere at the Emirates likely to be rather tense and unforgiving.

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