Arsenal muscle Leicester off ‘insane’ striker raid for record-breaker whose value has tripled

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Lens striker Lois Openda Credit: Alamy
Lens striker Lois Openda Credit: Alamy

Leicester hope to complete their unfinished business over a striker they tried to sign last summer, though Arsenal and another Premier League side have entered the frame for the lethal record-breaker, per reports.

Gabriel Jesus has proved an instant hit following his £45m move from Man City last summer. The Brazilian has thrived since moving into a central position and is making a big impact both in and out of possession.

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Eddie Nketiah capably deputised when Jesus was ruled out with a knee injury earlier in 2023. Elsewhere, Mikel Arteta signed the ultra-versatile Leandro Trossard in January and the Belgian is capable of playing as a false nine.

Folarin Balogun is scoring for fun while on loan at French side Reims. However, Arsenal will reportedly listen to offers for Balogun at season’s end with the striker refusing to be loaned out for a third time.

If Balogun departs, a new striker to provide even stiffer competition for Gabriel Jesus could be signed. According to a report out of Spain (as cited by the Sun), the Gunners have fixed their gaze on Lens frontman, Lois Openda.

Arsenal, Aston Villa, Leicester chasing Ligue 1 record-breaker

The Belgium international, 23, has bagged an impressive 17 goals in 32 Ligue 1 matches this term. Even more remarkable is his recent form that’s seen Openda score eight and provide two assists in his last six outings.

Openda scored the fastest hattrick in French league football in 50 years during that stretch when putting three past Clermont in just four minutes and 30 seconds.

Openda cost Lens roughly €10m when plucked from Club Brugge last summer. Per Sport, Leicester were in the mix at that time, though ultimately missed out.

The Foxes are understood to be keen on rectifying their mistake, though now face heavyweight competition from Aston Villa and Arsenal.

In the event Openda is prised out of Lens, the Spanish report claims Lens will command roughly three times the fee they paid less than one year ago.

As such, a figure in the region of €30m (approx. £26.5m) will be required for the eight-cap Belgium international.

Both Villa and Arsenal are deemed more than capable of sanctioning an outlay of that size. Leicester’s financial might is less certain and it stands to reason they won’t pursue a move if they’re relegated to the Championship.

If Villa and Arsenal do lodge duelling bids, Openda will be faced with a difficult decision.

Both clubs have starting strikers who’ll be difficult to dislodge in the form of Gabriel Jesus and Ollie Watkins.

Both clubs may have European football to offer too, though Villa’s version looks likely to be the lesser heralded Europa League or Conference League.

READ MORE: Arsenal forward offered to Euro giant, with Saka influence and Arteta signing to prompt head-shaking exit

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