AS Monaco Join Chase For £16m Arsenal Star As James Rodriguez Replacement

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Ligue 1 giants join Atletico Madrid in pursuit of Gunners attacker.

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AS Monaco could be set to rival Atletico Madrid for the signing of Arsenal’s £16m-rated attacking midfielder Santi Cazorla as they continue to seek replacements for Real Madrid new-boy James Rodriguez.

The Ligue 1 giants were forced to sell the Colombian wide-man after just one season this summer as Real came calling with a mammoth £63m bid following the 23-year-old’s superb performances for his national side at this summer’s World Cup.

Rodriguez was a key player for Monaco in his single season for the club, and his big-money departure to the Bernabeu will leave the French side short of creativity and flair in attack, with Cazorla now emerging as a top contender to come in and fill that role in the side.

The Spaniard has been a big hit for the Gunners since making the move to the Emirates Stadium from Malaga in 2012, but has been recently linked with a return to La Liga with champions Atletico Madrid in this transfer window, with Diego Simeone also keen to bring him in as he rebuilds his squad for the 2014/15 season.

It remains to be seen if Arsenal will let the 29-year-old go at this stage, with little time left to find a replacement, though they have recently been linked with a move for Porto starlet Juan Fernando Quintero, who plays in the same position and who would cost a similar amount at about £16m.

Arsene Wenger ruled out a move for the 21-year-old prior to this weekend’s Emirates Cup, which saw Monaco and Arsenal come up against each other in the pre-season tournament hosted in north London.

Monaco could now be set to leave England with one of Arsenal’s key players as they prepare to step up their interest in Cazorla, while they have also recently been linked with Benfica winger Nicolas Gaitan, another player who was on show at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

Backed by their wealthy Russian owner, the Ligue 1 runners-up spent big last summer and could be ready to do so again this year as they prepare for Champions League football, and it may be that they will give Arsenal an offer too good to turn down for a player who might be seen as replaceable.

Even without signing Quintero, Wenger already has a number of attacking midfield players to choose from in that area, with Alexis Sanchez signing from Barcelona earlier this summer, and promising youngster Joel Campbell returning to the club after three years out on loan.

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