Exclusive: Arsenal Hope to Complete £23.5m Deal to Sign Centre-Back as Real Madrid Agree Fee

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Gunners close in on third signing of the summer.

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Arsenal hope to complete another exciting signing after a busy transfer window so far as Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane becomes the Emirates Stadium side’s latest target.

CaughtOffside understands that the Gunners are closing in on an agreement for the French youngster to move to north London in a £23.5m deal, with the option of a buy-back clause for Real should they look to re-sign him in the future.

The 21-year-old is widely regarded as one of the most promising young defenders in Europe at the moment after making his breakthrough at the Bernabeu in the last couple of seasons, though he has recently held talks with the club over his future after finding himself slipping down in the pecking order.

Sergio Ramos and Pepe currently remain the preferred partnership for Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti, while there has also been some speculation that highly-rated Spaniard Inigo Martinez could be brought in from Real Sociedad this summer, with some doubts over Varane following an injury-hit campaign last season.

His potential availability has also attracted strong interest from the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Juventus in recent times, but it looks as though Arsenal have won the race for his signature after agreeing personal terms with the player as well, with just a medical needed before he can be announced as the club’s latest signing.

Arsenal have been spending big in recent times, signing Mesut Ozil from the same club last summer for a club-record fee fo £42.5m, whilst also bringing in Alexis Sanchez for around £32m from Barcelona and Mathieu Debuchy for £10m from Newcastle United this year, and Varane looks another top class addition.

The France international’s arrival at the Emirates could pave way for out-of-favour defender Thomas Vermaelen to leave the club for Manchester United, with Arsene Wenger keen to have secured a replacement before allowing the Belgian to leave.

Varane will now compete with the likes of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny for a place in the Gunners starting lineup, but a good career in England could see him return to the Bernabeu in the future, with Real keen to have a buy-back option on the promising stopper, possibly worth around £33m.

The starlet had been a key part of Real’s future, but his desire to move has been accepted by the Spanish giants for the time being, and it is thought that the prospect of playing under Wenger at Arsenal has also influenced his decision.

Arsenal have also been linked with another player on the books at Madrid, Sami Khedira, though a move for the German World Cup winner looks to have stalled for the time being.

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