Arsenal handed £35m Lisandro Martinez transfer blow amid Atalanta chief’s Nuno Tavares admission

Atalanta director Lee Congerton has warned Edu that Arsenal may be unable to fund Mikel Arteta’s ‘top priority’ transfer for Lisandro Martinez this summer. The 24-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium, but the sale of Nuno Tavares could prove pivotal in ultimately signing the Ajax defender.

The former Leicester City transfer chief admitted that it’s “really difficult” to attract Premier League players abroad amid the Italian side’s mission to sign Tavares. Congerton, head of senior recruitment at Atalanta, revealed the club’s long-standing interest in the 22-year-old left-back, who faces an increasingly uncertain future at Arsenal.

According to the Express, Edu is demanding £35million for Tavares’ services. The former Benfica defender struggled at times during a turbulent debut season in the Premier League, making just 13 starts.

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On Tavares, Congerton said: “I’ve followed Tavares since he was playing for Benfica’s youth team, he’s a strong player. But Tavares is under contract with Arsenal – and it’s really difficult to sign players from Premier League clubs.”

Though, while it must be said that the absence of Kieran Tierney threw the former Portugal youth international in the deep end a little too soon, Tavares looks set to become surplus to requirements and make way for Ajax utility-man Martinez. According to The Athletic, the north London outfit have enquired about the Argentina international’s availability this summer.

Martinez, who sees his contract at The Johan Cruyff Arena expire in 2025, is said to be keen to pen a deal at the Emirates Stadium. However, reports claim that the Dutch giants have already rejected a €30million (£25.8m) bid from Edu.

The Gunners will reportedly persevere in their efforts to sign the Argentine amid competition from Manchester United, but Fabrizio Romano has claimed that Ajax want an ‘incredible’ bid worth €50million (£43m). Therefore, the Gunners must be prepared to increase their opening offer by €20million (£17.2m).

Martinez can operate as a centre-half, a number six and a full-back, handing Arteta a handful of options across the board. Depending on where an injury crisis breaks out, the Gunners boss can be confident that the Argentine will plug the gaps – a flexibility, and know-how, that Tavares hasn’t yet proved.

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