Arsene Wenger has built a reputation as a notoriously tough negotiator in the transfer window.
Preferring to bring in young talent for nominal fees and nurture them where possible, the Frenchman rarely splashes the cash to a terrific extent on just one player.
That could be about to change however, with Wenger reportedly willing to offer a club record £18m for Newcastle striker Demba Ba.
Ba, currently away on international duty with Senegal, has been a revelation this year, notching 22 goals in 30 Premier League appearances for West Ham and Newcastle, the latter of which he joined on a free transfer.
Apparent knee troubles had put Wenger off making a move in the past, but with the Senegalese forward playing such a healthy return of games throughout 2011, he now looks set to test the Magpies’ resolve with a bid exceeding the highest fee Arsenal have ever paid.
The return of the legendary Thierry Henry is only a temporary solution to the Gunners’ reliance on Robin Van Persie, as the idolised French striker is set to return to parent club New York Red Bulls within the next two months.
Wenger is desperate to identify a striker to ease the pressure on Van Persie, who has scored just less than half of all the London outfit’s league goals this season, and seems to have made 15-goal Ba his chief target.
Van Persie has just 18 months left to run on his Emirates deal, but a signing of this magnitude would no doubt allay any fears he has about his club’s ambitions.
While Alan Pardew would be reluctant to let his prize asset leave the Sports Direct Arena, he has recently tied up a deal for his international teammate Papiss Demba Cisse, and with a ready-made replacement in tow, Newcastle could find it difficult to turn down such a hefty offer for a man they paid nothing for in the summer.