Unai Emery wants jersey number 8 star at Arsenal in January

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 11: Pablo Fornals of Villarreal CF looks on during the La Liga match between Rayo Vallecano de Madrid and Villarreal CF at Campo de Futbol de Vallecas on November 11, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

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Arsenal will reportedly launch a bid to sign Villarreal midfielder Pablo Fornals in January, with the player said to have a £17.8 million release clause in his contract.

The 22-year-old Spanish midfielder was an established first-team regular with Malaga before paying his own release clause of £10m to join Villarreal in 2017, he has three goals and two assists this season in 17 games.

An attacking midfielder with a strong shot from distance who is able to hold onto the ball well and loves a tackle, Fornals currently wears the number 8 for Villarreal, a shirt number that will become available at Arsenal in the summer.

The playmaker could follow in the footsteps of former Gunners favourite Santi Cazorla, who joined Arsenal after representing Villarreal and Malaga in Spain’s top flight. Fornals now plays alongside Cazorla at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

The sale of Mohamed Elneny in January could help fund a move, while a replacement for Aaron Ramsey is needed with him set to leave the Emirates Stadium when his contract expires at the end of the campaign.

Ramsey’s expected departure from the Emirates Stadium next year has pushed manager Unai Emery to consider reinforcements, and the Mirror‘s Robert O’Connor reported Fornals, has caught his attention.

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