Unai Emery targets Toby Alderweireld swoop

Arsenal manager Unai Emery is targeting a world-class centre-back this summer and has placed Tottenham Hotspur’s Toby Alderweireld on his shortlist, per The Sun.

What’s the word?

The report claims that Emery wants to follow the example of Liverpool and sign a player in the mould of Virgil van Dijk this summer.

However, according to The Sun the Gunners boss will be forced to work with just £40million if the club fail to qualify for the Champions League this term.

With the club likely to have to raise funds, the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil, then, have been placed on the transfer list this summer, as well as defender Shkodran Mustafi, who has endured a disappointingly error-prone campaign.

Spurs’ Alderweireld has a £25million release clause in his contract that will be activated this summer, and the Gunners are said to be exploring the possibility of trying to lure him across the north London divide, a la their move for Sol Campbell nearly 20 years ago.

Leicester City’s Harry Maguire, Chelsea’s Kurt Zouma and Getafe’s Djene Dakonam are also listed as potential recruits this summer, with Emery desperate to reinforce his backline.

Help bridge the divide

Arsenal have fallen behind Spurs in recent seasons.

In a power shift that was once deemed unthinkable, Mauricio Pochettino’s men have finished above the Gunners in the last two seasons – by 11 points in 2016-17 and 14 in 17-18.

They are closer to each other this season, with third-placed Spurs just four points clear of Emery’s sixth-placed side.

Alderweireld, though, is perhaps the club’s best defensive player and signing him this summer would go a long way to restoring the traditional balance of power in north London.

It used to be red, after all, but in recent seasons, it’s been white; Alderweireld has been a major contributor to that.