Arsenal have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Dusan Vlahovic as the player has reportedly told his “close friends” that he wishes to remain in Italy.
The Gunners have been heavily linked with the attacker of late. He is said to be valued at around £68m.
The 21-year-old scored 21 goals in Serie A last season from his 37 outings for Florentina.
Vlahovic has been in superb form for the Italian side this season as he has scored 18 times from his 20 outings across all competitions.
Arsenal looked to be in a strong position to sign forward but Football London are reporting that Vlahovic would prefer to stay in Italy.
They suggest that the striker has told his “close friends” that a move to either Juventus or Inter Milan would be “ideal”.
The report also states that a transfer to Tottenham “could be in the pipeline”. This is given Fabio Paratici’s supposed “close relationship” with the player’s representatives.
Merson recently encouraged Arsenal to offer Vlahovic a “lorryload of money”:
“Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is finished at Arsenal. He won’t be coming back from the Africa Cup of Nations,” Merson wrote for The Daily Star.
“They should be breaking the bank to get Dusan Vlahovic in from Fiorentina in the summer – because he would make them title contenders.
“I’ve heard he’s not interested in Arsenal right now and I can understand that. But he might change his mind if they finish in the top four and offer him a lorryload of money.
“Arsenal would be able to play him every week because Aubameyang will be gone. Alexandre Lacazette will probably be gone. And so will Eddie Nketiah.
“They will need a goalscorer, and Vlahovic scores goals. He’s also still young so he should get better. You’re not wasting money paying a 29-year-old on the way down.
“I think there are good things happening at Arsenal. Mikel Arteta has got them playing well. But they need a proven striker next season.
“He’s signed a keeper, defenders, full backs, midfielders and a No 10, promoted kids on the wings – a proper centre forward could be the missing piece.
“I’m not saying they’ll win the league if they get Vlahovic. But they’ll have a chance to make it a four-horse race at least.”
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