Arsenal are reportedly interesting in signing Mohamed Diame from West Ham in January.
Manager Arsene Wenger has abandoned his faith in Abou Diaby and is ready to move for a midfield anchorman in the forthcoming window.
Wenger has been alerted to the potential availability of the Senegal international, who, as West Ham chairman David Gold admitted on Friday, has a release clause in his contract that can be triggered in January.
Sources have told Goal.com the clause is ‘close to five million euros’, a sum that Wenger regards as good value.
Diame joined West Ham from Wigan Athletic on a free transfer in the summer and has been an impressive performer in Sam Allardyce’s team, who lie eighth in the league table.
The Hammers want to tie Diame down to a new deal that does not include a trigger clause, but the interest of leading clubs could turn the 25-year-old’s head.
Newcastle United and Fulham are also keen on the midfielder, while Liverpool could also enter the race. The Merseysiders were close to signing Diame at the end of last season but dropped their interest when Kenny Dalglish was sacked.
Gold did not reveal the size of the release clause but, responding to media reports, admitted that it does exist.
“Diame does have a release clause in his three-year contract. He joined us from Wigan on a free transfer,” the West Ham co-owner tweeted.
Arsenal’s interest could prove decisive for Diame, who has attracted praise for his power, touch and ability at protecting the defence.
The north Londoners’ only similar senior player of his type is Diaby, but the injury-prone Frenchman has not played for Arsenal since September 29 and is not close to a first-team return.
It promises to be the most hectic January at Arsenal since the transfer window system was introduced.
The Gunners are looking to reinforce the goalkeeping, striker and attacking midfield positions, with Pepe Reina, Adrian Lopez and Wilfried Zaha their leading targets.
Thierry Henry has also agreed to return to Emirates Stadium on loan in January, with Arsenal in talks with New York Red Bulls about the length of his third spell at the club.