Athletic Bilbao must remain patient in pursuit of Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal

The Basque club hope to reach a deal with Arsenal soon, but must wait until after the Gunners have signed a replacement.

Patience must be the greatest virtue Athletic Club Bilbao need to demonstrate this summer, if they're to finally secure the services of Arsenal full-back Nacho Monreal, according to Spanish sports outlet Marca.

Whilst reports suggest that Monreal is very keen on making a switch to San Mames, the Basque club must first wait for Arsenal to sign a replacement, at a price manager Arsene Wenger is willing to pay.

The leading target for the Gunners is Napoli left-back Faouzi Ghoulam, although in recent days, the Telegraph have reported that they face potentially stiff competition from Premier League champions Chelsea.

Napoli are seemingly resigned to losing the 24-year-old Algerian, with Arsenal said to be stepping up their interest, for fear of missing out on what would be an important signing. Chelsea reportedly ready to pounce for Ghoulam following the departure of Filipe Luis back to Atletico Madrid.

Meanwhile, Athletic Club are planning for all eventualities. Should Arsenal fail to sign Ghoulam or another left-back, the possibility of Monreal penning a new deal at The Emirates also exists.

As such, manager Ernesto Valverde has dipped into the prolific Athletic Club youth system, promoting 22-year-old Iñigo Lekue to the first-team squad in pre-season, having impressed over the last two seasons with the B team, Bilbao Athletic in Segunda B group 2.

Whilst the Basque side remain spectators regarding the future of Monreal for now, promising displays during pre-season friendlies from Lekue, who can play both at left-back and right-back, have encouraged Valverde that he has a possible alternative already at his club.

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