Arsenal face a battle to hang on to Laurent Koscielny as they brace themselves for bids for the in-demand defender, Goal understands.
Barcelona and Bayern Munich have both made enquiries for the France international and are prepared to offer him a bumper pay rise to move to the continent while the Gunners have slapped a €23.5 million price tag on the 27-year-old in an attempt to ward off interest from the two big hitters.
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Goal revealed in May that new Bayern coach Pep Guardiola had sanctioned a move for Koscielny and his representative Stephane Courbis admitted to Eurosport France on uSunday that the player had been targeted by both the Champions League holders and the Spanish champions.
"Laurent is part of a shortlist of two clubs," said Courbis. "Bayern or Barca have not contacted the player to discuss a possible transfer but I know that [he] is part of a shortlist of three or four players from both clubs."
Arsenal fear that Koscielny could be tempted by a big offer from either team. The 27-year-old has four years remaining on the £75,000-a-week contract that he signed last summer but the two continental giants could both offer him a salary worth more than £100,000 a week as well as a chance to play for two of Europe's elite clubs.
Koscielny caught the eye of Guardiola and Barcelona's top brass when Arsenal beat the recently crowned Spanish champions 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in a first-leg Champions League tie in February 2011. He was also outstanding in the Gunners' 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena in the first knockout stage of this season's tournament.
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There had been strong interest from the Catalan club in Thomas Vermaelen and he remains on their shortlist but Barca are believed to have prioritised the capture of Koscielny.
Meanwhile, Bayern have intensified their search for a new central defender after Holger Badstuber underwent knee surgery in May that the club claim will rule him out for another nine months.
Koscielny joined Arsenal from Lorient in 2010 for around €11m and has developed into one of the most accomplished defenders in the English top flight. The France international was a key figure in Arsenal securing a top-four Premier League finish and Arsene Wenger would hate to lose him.
Speaking earlier in June, Koscielny admitted he could leave Arsenal. "It is hard to not win titles year after year," he conceded. "We are competitors, professionals, we want to win. I want to add to my list of achievements. If Arsenal cannot allow me that, I'll seek a move elsewhere. I have to see if I have clubs interested in me. I will not go to any club."
Wenger has already lined up a move for Swansea City’s Ashley Williams as he prepares to rebuild his defence ahead of next season.
As revealed by Goal, the Wales captain has agreed personal terms with the Gunners and the Londoners are hopeful of signing the 28-year-old if they can agree a fee with Swansea.