Arsenal may be blown out of the water in the race to sign AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu, with Sky Italia reporting the midfielder has a mega-money contract on the table from Qatar.
There’s no reason to believe, at this stage, a midfielder in the prime of his career is going to turn his back on European football in favour of a bank balance-swelling switch to the Middle East.
Calhanoglu has just enjoyed his best season yet for an AC Milan side on the up under Stefano Pioli.
The Rossoneri are just one win away from securing a return to the Champions League after almost a decade away from the European elite too, in what would be a major boost to their hopes of hanging on to a star player or two.
But, with his contract expiring in July, Calhanoglu has one heck of a decision to make. At the age of 27, the next contract he signs will be a defining moment in his career.
Manchester United and Chelsea have been linked.
Earlier this month, Milan Live reported Arsenal have been in touch with Calhanoglu’s representatives too.
A set-piece master with a fine goalscoring record from his favoured number ten role, the former Bayer Leverkusen man is a ready-made replacement for Martin Odegaard at the Emirates.
Some would say he’s also an upgrade after producing nine goals and 12 assists for Milan this season.
The report adds Calhanoglu wanted £85,000 a week to stay at the San Siro. To put that in perspective, Qatari outfit Al-Duhail have slapped down an offer closer to £130,000 a week.
Calhanoglu would be paid a staggering £27 million over three years in the Middle East, including a £7 million signing-on fee.
Can Arsenal compete with that? Sporting-wise, yes. Financially speaking? Probably not.
So much will depend on what Calhanoglu wants. The chance to prove himself in the Champions League or at the top of the English game?
Or a contract that will set him and his family up for life?