Arsenal begin talks to sign £51m defender after matching Chelsea offer | Football

Ousmane Diomande is wanted by Arsenal and Chelsea (Getty)

Arsenal have begun talks to sign Sporting CP centre-back Ousmane Diomande, according to reports in Portugal.

The 20-year-old was signed in a €12.5 million (£11m) deal from Danish side FC Midtjylland 14 months ago and has made an immediate impact during his time in Portugal.

Midtjylland included a 20 per cent sell-on clause as part of their agreement with Sporting, while Diomande has an €80m (£68.5m) release clause.

According to Record, Chelsea have indicated that they are ready to offer a €60m (£51.4m) fee to sign Diomande.

However, Arsenal have now stepped up their interest and have held talks with both Sporting and Diomande over a summer deal for the defender.

The report claims that Arsenal have made it known that they will match Chelsea’s €60m (£51.4m) bid, which could increase further with bonuses.

Sporting CP's Ousmane Diomande in action with Atalanta's Aleksei Miranchuk

Ousmane Diomande has impressed during his 14 months at Sporting (Reuters)

Liverpool, Newcastle United and Bayern Munich have also been linked with a move for the Ivory Coast international.

Diomande already has experience of playing against Premier League opposition as he faced Arsenal in two Europa League ties last season.

Last summer, reports claimed that Arsenal had a €35m (£30m) for Diomande rejected by Sporting but the Gunners vowed to follow up with another bid at the end of the season.

Sporting are also facing a fight to keep their star striker Viktor Gyokeres, who has scored 36 goals in 39 appearances this season.

Chelsea reportedly had a £73m offer for the Sweden international rejected in the January transfer window.

Sporting are understood to be holding out for a transfer fee closer to the 25-year-old’s €100m (£85.7m) release clause.

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