Lyon and Napoli hand Arsenal double Gonalons blow

Olympique Lyonnais

Where is Maxime Gonalons heading? It does not appear to be Arsenal...

Arsenal's hunt for a defensive midfielder goes on, seemingly at snail's pace with securing striker Gonzalo Higuain the main priority.

In the last 24 hours the Gunners were dealt a blow regarding Etienne Capoue, by the revelations that the Toulouse midfielder is in negotiations with Monaco over a switch.

It now appears Maxime Gonalons is further removed from their grasp too, due to a changing situation regarding the Lyon man.

It was claimed this morning by Italian newspaper Il Mattino that Rafa Benitez' Napoli side were ready to land the midfielder, preparing a bid of €13 million for his services.

Gonalons is presently on holiday in the Bahamas, but it was reported that the Serie A side were making a major play for his signature and offer him €1.5 million per season in salary.

This evening his club Lyon have responded to the story, which was also followed up in French newspaper L'Equipe, and re-affirmed their desire to keep the 24-year-old via a statement on their website.

"Olympique Lyonnais were very surprised to read in L'Equipe this morning that we would set a transfer figure for Maxime Gonalons and that it would be more than €12 million.

"The club have no intention of parting with our captain and this is a matter of clear strategy, namely the further development of our club around our best young players from the academy of which Maxime Gonalons is one of the best examples.

"The club therefore deny any contact and any negotiations with Napoli and regret any suggestion otherwise, as suggested in this newspaper."

It is a clear hint to Napoli and any other potential suitors - namely Arsenal who the midfielder was thought to be a priority for - that they are not prepared to do business.

It should not be taken completely at face value, simply that they are not in negotiations as Napoli, despite their protestations they are known for selling on their best players like Hugo Lloris last season. Perhaps this season may be different however.

For Arsenal it certainly does seem however that the path to his signature has become far more complicated than believed. Not only do they face competition from Napoli, but Lyon appear extra determined to hold onto their star man.

With Capoue expected to be off the market soon too, and Illarramendi looking too expensive, Arsenal's options in defensive midfield are becoming more limited. Victor Wanyama anyone?

Who do you think Arsenal should sign in defensive midfield?

image: © julien haler

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