Arsenal eye Barcelona academy graduate Alex Grimaldo

Gunners are eyeing a move for Benfica left-back Alex Grimaldo, but will face competition from several European heavyweights.

Jose Mourinho had ordered Manchester United to keep tabs on the 23-year-old before his sacking in December, while the likes of Atletico Madrid and Manchester City are also monitoring the Barcelona academy graduate.

Left-back has turned into something of a problem position for Unai Emery, with Nacho Monreal’s season severely disrupted by a number of muscle injuries.

The 32-year-old’s contract was due to expire at the end of the season but reports claim Arsenal opted to trigger a 12-month extension clause in January.

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In Monreal’s absence, Sead Kolasinac, a free signing from Schalke 18 months ago, has emerged as a key attacking weapon but remains suspect defensively, especially on the occasions Emery has reverted to a flat back four.

Arsenal were restricted to signing players on loan during the most recent transfer window and Emery could be handed as little as £45million to work with in the summer before player sales.

Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi are two players who could be sold in a bid to raise extra funds, but even then Arsenal would struggle to secure the services of Grimaldo without the carrot of Champions League football.

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