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Talks ‘well advanced’ as Thierry Henry gives Arsenal helping hand on £17.2m deal

Arsenal have been given a significant boost in their reported pursuit of Albert Sambi Lokonga amid claims the midfielder can leave Anderlecht in a matter of weeks.

Mikel Arteta is planning wholesale changes to his Arsenal squad this summer. As such, the Gunners starting XI could have a very fresh feel by the time the Premier League gets underway on Saturday 14 August. And Arteta, along with technical director Edu and director of football Richard Garlick are looking at their midfield as a priority.

Those plans should be kicked off in a matter of days with Granit Xhaka reported to have agreed a move to Italy. And the Gunners are looking at a classy Premier League midfielder to come into the side in his place.

Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira are also expected to depart. As such, the north Londoners want quality replacements. 

Indeed, it seems Arteta and Co won’t stop at the signing of Ruben Neves with another name likely to be added to their pool. Brighton’s Yves Bissouma is one such star they could target – but with a £40m asking price, he looks too pricey.

Instead, the Gunners are reported to be pushing ahead with a deal to sign Anderlecht’s Lokonga.

Now, according to Sudinfo, those hopes have been given a significant lift with the Belgian side identifying his replacement.

They report that Vincent Kompany’s side are in advanced talks over a deal for Argentinian Fausto Vera. And once his signing is confirmed, they claim Lokonga will be allowed to move on.

The article claims the Gunners are leading the chase for the powerful midfield lynchpin. Monaco, Sevilla and Bayer Leverkusen are the other sides reportedly keen.

However, they report Arsenal are his most likely suitor. Furthermore, they claim the 21-year-old can move on for just €20m (£17.2m) – a fee that would not deter the Gunners.

Lokonga is currently training with the Belgium squad preparing for Euro 2020. And they Belgium coach Thierry Henry has been talking up the Gunners to the midfielder. Indeed, they state Henry has been the key figure in helping Arsenal win the race for his signature.

Xhaka ready for Arsenal departure

Roma, meanwhile, are believed to have offered around €13m initially for 28-year-old Xhaka. But the Corriere dello Sport understand that an improved fee worth around €18m, including bonuses has convinced the Gunners to sell.

There was a willingness from both sides to get a deal done ahead of Euro 2020.

Xhaka was also keen on a new challenge if last week’s remarks are anything to go by. And the combative central midfielder will look to resurrect his career in Italy under Jose Mourinho.

Speaking to Blick (via Goal) he said: “Honestly, I didn’t hear what Mourinho said, but that makes you proud.

“Everyone knows Mourinho and what he has achieved. Mourinho knows how to win trophies.

“You can now see what work I have done over the past few years.”

“Of course I read the rumours too. But now I’m one hundred per cent focused on the national team,” he said.

“That’s more important than Arsenal or rumours right now.”

READ MORE: Arsenal chief Edu eyes La Liga striker prize with release clause a tempter

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