Arsène Wenger hopes that the imminent appointment of Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid will allow him to step up his pursuit of the club's striker Gonzalo Higuaín, for whom he is ready to break the Arsenal transfer record.
Madrid have been without a manager since they parted company with José Mourinho two weeks ago and Higuaín, who has come to appear surplus to requirements at the Bernabéu, nonetheless wants confirmation of where he might stand in the new setup before he makes a decision over his future.
Ancelotti has made it clear that he wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain, his current employer, for Madrid and he is expected to take his English No2, Paul Clement, with him. One snag has been PSG's desire to first tie up Ancelotti's replacement, with Guus Hiddink of Anzhi Makhachkala the favourite for the post. Tottenham Hotspur's André Villas-Boas is also on the shortlist.
Wenger has watched the situation closely, as he prepares to enter the transfer market with as sizeable a kitty as he has ever had. The Arsenal chief executive, Ivan Gazidis, said last week that the club could now compete for the very top players, having struck lucrative new commercial deals and Higuaín fits the profile.
Wenger wants fresh impetus up front and talks have already taken place with Higuaín's representatives. Juventus also covet the Argentina international, who Florentino Pérez, the Madrid president, values at £25m. Arsenal's record outlay is the £15m that they spent on Andrey Arshavin in 2009; he will leave the club as a free agent when his contract expires on 30 June.
Arsenal would love to make a high-profile addition before they depart for their pre-season tour of Asia on 11 July, which will take in Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan.
They are unconcerned about the row that has broken out between the national stadium owners in Vietnam and promoters which, according to reports, has jeopardised the match between a Vietnam XI and Arsenal on 17 July.
The owners have increased their normal rental fee of about £6,000 to £45,000 for the much anticipated showpiece, to the anguish of the promoters and the Vietnam Football Federation. But Arsenal do not envisage it derailing the game, nor will they allow it to, as they prepare to become the first Premier League team to visit Vietnam.
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image: © Jan S0L0