By Editor Wayne Veysey | Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this
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Arsenal are keeping close tabs on Gonzalo Higuain as they target a “world-class” striker this summer, Football Insider sources understand.
The Gunners are in the market for an A-list front man as they attempt to reinforce a squad that could once again fall short this season.
Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League on Wednesday night, just three days after Watford eliminated them from the FA Cup and their slim chances of winning silverware this season rest upon clawing back an 11-point gap on Premier League leaders Leicester.
Arsene Wenger failed to land an elite striker last summer after moves for Karim Benzema and Edinson Cavani fell through but the north Londoners will once again be in the market for a proven goalscorer.
A well-placed source has told Football Insider that Arsenal want a “world-class” forward who can score 30-plus goals a season.
They tried to sign Higuain from Real Madrid in 2013 but were beaten to the punch by Napoli and he has gone on to be a huge success for the Italian club.
However, the Argentina international has yet to open talks with Napoli over a contract extension and, with his current deal expiring in 2018, there is huge interest in prising the forward from Naples in the summer transfer window.
In addition to Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are all closely monitoring the situation of Higuain, who has scored an astonishing 27 Serie A goals in 29 matches this season, 13 more than his closest rival, Paulo Dybala of Juventus.
Amid strong interest in the player last summer, Napoli released a statement informing potential suitors that they must meet a release clause of €94.7million (£73.9million) to sign the forward, who turned 28 in December.
There is likely to be anxiety among Napoli chiefs about the future of Higuain unless he extends his agreement, especially given the mammoth new Premier League broadcasting deal that comes into effect next season and will give English clubs even greater financial muscle.
Since being among ex manager Rafael Benitez’s first signings in the summer of 2013, the former Real Madrid striker has scored 82 Napoli goals in just 140 games and also weighed in with 26 assists.
In other Arsenal transfer news, up to nine senior stars could leave as part of a mass overhaul of the playing squad in the summer.