ARSENAL could make a shock move for Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma this summer as Unai Emery demands the signing of a world-class centre-half.
The London club’s summer spending plans have been thrown into chaos by Emery’s insistence his squad needs a quality player to improve the leaky defence.
Now the Gunners are looking to sell stars including Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Shkodran Mustafi to finance the manager’s rebuilding.
But Emery has been warned that he will have to work with a budget of around £40million if Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League.
The Gunners boss has seen the way Liverpool have been transformed by £75m Virgil van Dijk and believes Arsenal need to follow suit to address his team’s shortcomings.
One of the players he is most keen on is Chelsea defender Zouma, who has impressed during a season on loan with Everton to such an extent the Merseyside club want to sign him permanently.
Harry Maguire, Toby Alderweireld, and Getafe’s Djene Dakonam are all on radar — but like Zouma, none would come cheaply.
They are committed to paying £7m for Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli, 17, and are interested in £18m-rated Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Christopher Nkunku, 21.
But Arsenal’s failure to appoint a director of football or replace head of recruitment Sven Mislintat is causing problems behind the scenes.
Head of football Raul Sanllehi and international scout Francis Cagigao are overseeing spending plans in consultation with Emery and managing director Vinai Venkatesham.
But it is unclear who is in control of the overall strategy and taking charge of negotiations this summer.
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Ozil and Mkhitaryan have two years to run on lucrative contracts and could be almost impossible to shift for any sort of fee.
Arsenal have failed to find a buyer for error-prone Mustafi for the last two years.
The uncertainty has increased the pressure on the Gunners to win the Europa League — they face Valencia in the semi-final first leg tomorrow — and secure Champions League qualification worth around £30m.