Arsenal are in ‘pole position’ to sign Joelson Fernandes this summer with the club already in talks over a transfer, according to reports.
With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang yet to commit his future to the club Arsenal are wasting no time in looking for replacements.
Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Chelsea in today’s FA Cup final courtesy of an Aubameyang brace means the Gunners will have European football next term - something the Gabon international is desperate to be a part of.
But it seems Arsenal are already taking the necessary steps in case their prized asset does leave for a club who can offer Champions League football.
According to Portuguese newspaper O Jogo, Arsenal have sent officials to Lisbon to negotiate a deal for highly-rated winger Fernandes.
The 17-year-old has been linked with a switch to north London as he is yet to agree a new contract with Sporting.
Fernandes' current deal is said to have a release clause of £40m but the report claims he could be available for between €15m (£13.5m) and €20m (£18m).
Most of his appearances last season came for Sporting U23, where he scored five goals and provided two assists in 28 appearances.
While Fernandes predominantly plays as a winger it remains to be seen if Mikel Arteta could play him as a striker if Aubameyang departs and they can agree a fee with Sporting.
Alternatively, Arteta could look to make Eddie Nketiah, Alexandre Lacazette or Gabriel Martinelli as his main striker with Fernandes playing on the wing.
But there’s no doubt in Arsenal legend Ian Wright’s mind that regardless of the talent his former club are being linked with, the priority should be keeping Aubameyang - although he can’t be blamed for leaving if does decide not to sign a new deal.
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“If I’m going to sit here and speak about Aubameyang at the stage of his career that he’s at, maybe wanting to win things, maybe one last chance and people are saying that Real Madrid are sniffing around him,” Wright said recently.
"He’s somebody with the way he’s scored goals in his career, he probably wants something to show for it… I know he’s won stuff in Germany.
"But if he did [leave]… if he was somebody that was tempted away, I’m not sure that people could really fault him at this stage because you look at Arsenal and the current plight, you have to say we’re going through a transitional period, coming off of [Arsene] Wenger, coming off of Unai Emery and now getting the coach that I believe is going to take us to the promised land.
"It depends totally on whether Aubameyang has the patience to wait for this to kick in but if he didn’t I’m not sure at his age what people could say, he’s somebody that deserves to be playing at a level where he’s able to win things.
"Depending on his ambition, his people around him and what they’re saying to him, how much he loves the club – and I know he loves the club immensely – you have to pray that’s going to be enough for him to stay.
"But I’m not going sit here and say anything other than I wish him all the best with what he does but I pray to God he stays at Arsenal."