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Arsenal are keen on Villarreal’s £40 million centre-back Pau Torres but the Spain international would prefer a move to Real Madrid, as reported by Marca.

The Gunners might have finally got their season up and running with three successive victories but no one is under any illusions; the road to the top is long and winding and Mikel Arteta is not out of the woods yet.

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Arteta has a major rebuild on his hands too; one that will take a number of transfer windows to get right.

The arrival of Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille and Pablo Mari’s return from injury might have strengthened Arsenal’s defensive options but, with Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers all facing uncertain futures, the defence is still in a state of flux.

And, in a blow to their transfer plans, one of the finest young centre-halves in Europe appears unlikely to be swapping the Castellon Coast for London any time soon.

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They say that Torres, the silky Spaniard with a £40 million release-clause in his contract, would prefer to join Real Madrid than Arsenal if he does indeed bid farewell to Villarreal later this year.

Marca adds that there is a strong relationship between Real and the Yellow Submarine – despite the well-publicised Takefusa Kubo saga.

Furthermore, a move to the Spanish capital would see Torres link up with Sergio Ramos, his central defensive partner in the national team under Luis Enrique.

“(Torres) is a terrific center-back with and without the ball,” quipped former Villarreal and Arsenal legend Santi Cazorla recently.

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