Gunners eye Mbappe as Lacazette debut looms

SYDNEY • Arsenal are keen on in-demand Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe, manager Arsene Wenger said yesterday, while confirming club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette will make his debut on their pre-season tour of Australia.

The 18-year-old Mbappe has reportedly been the subject of world-record offers from Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, and Wenger said he was always interested in young talent.

"He's a player who, when he gets up in the morning, can choose where he wants to go. Not many players have that kind of luck," the Frenchman said in Sydney, where Arsenal are on a pre-season tour.

"He is just 18 years of age and it is all of Europe who have the red carpet out for him. I believe nobody can say he is not interested in a player of that kind because he has such immense quality at 18."

Wenger is also said to be keen on Mbappe's Monaco team-mate Thomas Lemar as a supporting attacker to Lacazette, whose move from Lyon to the Gunners was sealed last week for a club-record fee that could rise to €60 million (S$94.6 million).

But the Arsenal manager would not be drawn on the chances of landing Lemar.

"That's all speculation at the moment; there is nothing really concrete about any signing," he said.

Wenger also insisted that he expects unsettled striker Alexis Sanchez to honour his contract and potentially sign an extension.

Reports in Britain have said the Chilean, 28, could be offloaded for up to £80 million (S$142.9 million), but Wenger suggested this would not happen.

Lacazette - who is hoping his move to Arsenal can help boost his hopes of cementing a place in the France squad ahead of next year's World Cup - will make his debut against Sydney FC tomorrow.

The Gunners play two pre-season friendlies this week, following up the clash with Sydney FC by facing Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2017, with the headline 'Gunners eye Mbappe as Lacazette debut looms'. Print Edition | Subscribe