LONDON • Arsenal have reached an agreement in principle with Borussia Dortmund over the club-record £55.5 million (S$103 million) signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, although the Bundesliga side will only sanction the completion of the deal once they have secured a replacement.
Negotiations have been ongoing for Aubameyang, 28, for a fortnight, with Arsenal always confident a deal could be concluded this month after the player made clear he was keen to move to London.
The Guardian reported that a 31/2-year, £180,000-a-week contract has been agreed with the Gabon forward, although reaching a compromise with Dortmund has proved more problematic.
Dortmund have made clear that they must secure a replacement for the outgoing Aubameyang before the transfer is formally signed off.
There have been talks with Arsenal over Olivier Giroud - that would be a separate deal, if agreed, rather than a swop - although the Frenchman is reluctant to leave London mid-season and could still be more tempted by a move to Chelsea.
British media yesterday reported that Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi has agreed to a loan deal until the end of the season - a temporary measure Dortmund may invoke.
Aubameyang's former Dortmund team-mate Henrikh Mkhitaryan, meanwhile, is poised to make his Arsenal debut today when Arsene Wenger's side travel to Swansea in the Premier League.
"I haven't decided (if Mkhitaryan plays on Tuesday) yet. But he is available like everyone else," Arsenal manager Wenger said, confirming that the 29-year-old Armenian forward is in line to start.
Mkhitaryan's arrival from Manchester United also means Wenger's players have been able to prepare for the game without the sideshow caused by Alexis Sanchez's protracted departure from the Emirates Stadium.
The swop deal that saw Sanchez and Mkhitaryan change clubs has drawn a line under a saga that was threatening to destabilise the second half of Arsenal's season.
But with Sanchez gone, Wenger hopes he can rebuild his side around the axis of playmakers Mkhitaryan and Mesut Ozil.
"I think Mkhitaryan can play in all positions in midfield," Wenger added.
"In a box-to-box role, certainly not a defensive role or as a holding player, but all the other positions are not out of reach.
"You see straightaway that he's a great football player. We now have to find out what the best possible position is for him and how quickly he can integrate the way we want to play. It doesn't look like there will be any problem in there."
The extent to which a partnership with Ozil can flourish will also depend on whether the German opts to stay at Arsenal beyond the end of his current contract which expires at the end of this season.
Wenger admitted he is not yet sure what Ozil's future holds.
"The vibes I get from his commitment, his focus and his desire for achievement with the team is that he behaves like someone who is completely focused and committed and ready to commit but after that contract negotiations are what they are," the Frenchman said.
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