Arsenal are set to battle Tottenham Hotspur for Villarreal’s Pablo Fornals as a Mesut Özil replacement, according to reports.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on March 10, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 10: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on March 10, 2019, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The Express write that Arsenal and Tottenham are ‘set to battle’ for Fornals’ signature. Unai Emery has reportedly been keeping tabs on the player, but they’ll have to let Özil go to bring him to the club.

The report doesn’t seem particularly reliable though. Going up before the Manchester United match, it claimed Özil would be dropped for the match, which he wasn’t. It also stresses that Arsenal are desperate to offload the German’s ‘£400,000 per week’ salary, even though all reliable reports suggest the wages are £350,000.

Perhaps the English outlet are wide of the mark on Özil, but there are signs from elsewhere that the Gunners could genuinely have an interest in Fornals.

VALENCIA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 04: Pablo Fornals of Malaga CF celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and Malaga CF at Mestalla stadium on December 4, 2016 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

CalcioMercato recently reported that Napoli were in contention with Arsenal for the player’s signature.

TeamTalk previously claimed in an exclusive that Arsenal faced competition from Manchester City and Spurs for the 23-year-old Villarreal star. They wrote that Fornals first caught Arsenal’s eye 18 months ago and the club considered a move in January, but couldn’t make one due to the financial restrictions on their winter business.

TeamTalk’s report suggests the Gunners see Fornals as their ‘ideal replacement for Juventus-bound Aaron Ramsey’, rather than Özil.

An established first-team regular with Malaga before paying his own release clause of £10m to join Villarreal in 2017, Fornals has four goals and five assists this season in 39 games. He’s an attacking midfielder with a strong shot from distance, who loves a tackle and is able to hold onto the ball well. We’ll see where he ends up.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.