Exclusive: Arsenal to Offer £23m for Chelsea Striker

Emirates Stadium side look to make the most of change in transfer policy at Stamford Bridge.

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Arsenal are preparing the ground work on a summer bid for Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku with Arsene Wenger said to be buoyed by the West London club’s willingness to sell Juan Mata to Man United.

CaughtOffside understands that Gunners boss Wenger has been a long term admirer of the 20 year old Belgian international but had shied away from making an offer for the Stamford Bridge starlet in previous transfer windows as he felt that Chelsea wouldn’t consider selling to a Premier League rival.

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Chelsea’s readiness to cash-in on players Jose Mourinho doesn’t see as part of his long term plans may well offer Arsenal hope as the set to meet the club’s £23m price-tag for in-form striker Lukaku.

Lukaku has proven a big hit during loan spells at West Brom and Everton, during which time he has proven he can score regularly in the Premier League, netting 26 goalsin 53 appearances of which 16 were from the bench.

If Mourinho doesn’t see the former Anderlecht man as part his first team set-up it’s likely the Portuguese boss will look to sell the player outright in the summer rather than elect to loan Lukaku for a third straight season and in a similar turn of events as with Mata if Arsenal turn out to be the highest bidders then the Emirates Stadium side could well win the race to sign the Chelsea youngster.

Wenger is keen to strengthen his attack and a move to Lukaku not only adheres to his youthful transfer policy but would also be something of a statement of intent as he seeks to improve a potential ‘problem area’ in his squad.

Nicklas Bendtner has been called back to the Arsenal first team squad which is a measure of the paucity of options up front, with a great deal of burden heaped on French forward Olivier Giroud, not least as both Theo Walcott and Lukas Podoslki have suffered with lengthy injury problems this season.

Everton are also likely to want to sign Lukaku in the summer but are unlikely to be able to raise the funds to meet his valuation.

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