Arsenal remain in pursuit of Espanyol centre-back Mario Hermoso, and the Spanish side have now accepted that keeping their star player at the club could be too much of a challenge.
The 23-year-old has enjoyed two impressive seasons with Espanyol, attracting the interest from many of Europe’s biggest clubs. Alongside Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid are all thought to be keen on the Spaniard.
Espanyol are keen to retain all their top players, but they are now thought to be readying themselves for a number of summer bids. Both Borja Iglesias and Marc Roca have been linked with moves away from the club, but it is Hermoso who looks to have attracted the most interest.
He is said to have a €40m release clause in his contract, which expires in 2020, meaning any interested side could pay that fee and bypass negotiations with Espanyol.
However, Real are thought to hold a huge advantage in the race for his signature. Hermoso began his career with Los Blancos, before making the switch to Espanyol in the summer of 2017. As part of this deal, Real agreed a buy-back clause of just €7.5m, which could give them the advantage.
With Sergio Ramos linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu this summer, Hermoso could be a bargain replacement, and Zinedine Zidane would not hesitate to part with such a fee to help improve his squad.
Nevertheless, Arsenal are keen to lure Hermoso to the Emirates Stadium. With doubts over the long-term futures of both Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi, the Gunners may find themselves in need of defensive reinforcements, and Hermoso is thought to be one of their top priorities.
However, with Bayern and PSG both tracking the Spaniard, finalising a deal for Hermoso will certainly not be straightforward for Arsenal.