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The Gunners remain locked in negotiations with los Blancos but are reluctant to pay more than £21 million for the Argentine striker and are now considering a fall-back option

EXCLUSIVE
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Arsenal's bid to sign Gonzalo Higuain has stalled as they struggle to agree a fee with Real Madrid, Goal understands.

The Londoners are reluctant to pay above £21 million for the striker, while the Spanish giants hold out for £25.5m.

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The two clubs remain locked in negotiations but Arsene Wenger is now understood to be eyeing up an alternative proven striker at a cheaper price.

Goal reported in June that an Arsenal delegation flew out to Madrid to finalise the Higuain deal with their Madrid counterparts.

However, the talks did not result in an agreement and, despite Arsenal's confidence that a deal can be secured, Wenger is now considering a fall-back option.

Arsenal have agreed the terms of a contract with Higuain that will start with a salary of £100,000-a-week, which will bring him in line with the club's top earners Theo Walcott and skipper Thomas Vermaelen.

Higuain will pocket a bumper pay rise if he completes a move to the Gunners as he is believed to be earning a relatively modest £64,000-a-week at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Juventus have also made the prolific forward an offer but are unwilling to pay a £20m-plus fee after signing Carlos Tevez and unveiling fellow forward Fernando Llorente on Tuesday.

Arsenal remain in pole position to capture Higuain, who has his heart set on a move to Emirates Stadium but has to remain patient while negotiations continue.

Wenger has prioritised the signing of a top forward this summer and retains a concrete interest in Wayne Rooney, who is keen to sever his ties with Manchester United.

The Higuain deal is regarded as easier to secure even though it would break the £20m transfer barrier and comfortably smash the club's transfer record.

Arsenal began their summer recruitment drive on Monday after completing the signing of Yaya Sanogo on a free transfer from Auxerre.

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