Arsenal have learnt that one of Mikel Arteta’s top summer targets, Odilon Kossounou, will cost more than double the fee they initially expected to spend.
Kossounou, 20, spent six months with Hammarby after joining from ASEC Abidjan in January 2019. The defender impressed in just nine appearances, with Club Brugge snapping him up in the summer of 2019.
He made just four starts among seven Belgium First Division A appearances during 2019-2020. But he has enjoyed 22 league outings for the runaway league leaders this term.
Brugge are 15 points clear of Royal Antwerp and Kossounou has played his part. The Ivory Coast international is rated highly in the European game.
With an ability to read the game well and time his tackles to perfection, he is in demand. Arsenal joined Wolves in being linked over the weekend.
The Gunners had expected the centre-half to cost around £8.5m – £10m – a price Arsenal were happy to meet.
However, with both Inter Milan and AC Milan joining the scramble, his price appears to have dramatically changed.
Indeed, Voetbal Belgie now claims any club wanting to land Kossounou this summer will have to part with £20m.
That will leave Arteta and technical director Edu with some serious thinking to do. Finances are tight at Arsenal and a number of high earners will likely leave this summer to raise cash.
However, with Milan apparently seeing Kossounou as the heir to Alessio Romagnoli, the Ivorian comes with a big pedigree.
Indeed, sporting director Paolo Maldini is ‘personally enthused’ about Kossounou. He hopes Milan to also make him a top summer priority – hence the increase in his price.
Four tipped to leave Arsenal
Arsenal plan to make room for new arrivals this summer by selling off four unwanted stars.
The Gunners allowed a number of high-profile stars to move on in January as they cleared the deck. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sead Kolasinac were all allowed to move on. However, the exodus will not stop there, with Edu also looking to offload at least two more as part of Arsenal’s rebuilding.
As per the report, the two highest profile of these will be striker Alexandre Lacazette and defender David Luiz.
Brazilian defender Luiz will be out of contract at the end of the season. He appears likely to leave as a free agent. Lacazette, meanwhile, has lost his first-team spot, but would still likely command a transfer fee of around £25m.
The Gunners also want to two loan stars to move on to generate further income in Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira.
Guendouzi joined Hertha Berlin on a season’s loan over the summer after falling out with Mikel Arteta. While he has impressed in the Bundesliga, the paper claims there is no way back for him at the Emirates. Arsenal are reported to be seeking around £25m for his services.