Wenger identifies France striker as chief Arsenal transfer target

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Arsenal’s hopes of keeping Robin Van Persie beyond this summer may hinge on whether or not they achieve Champions League qualification this year, but boss Arsene Wenger already appears to be lining up a move to bring in a possible replacement for the Dutchman up front.

Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud has emerged as a prime target for Wenger, who is keen to bolster his attacking options even if Van Persie does decide to sign a new Emirates deal, and he is expected to compete with Serie A giants Juventus for Giroud’s signature.

Wenger is believed to have been tracking the progress of the 25-year-old for some time now, and having racked up 28 goals in 59 league games at Montpellier, Giroud appears to have done enough to convince the Arsenal supremo to part with a fee in the region of £15m for his services.

That said, his current club Montpellier know that they are in a strong negotiating position, having tied the player down to a contract that expires in 2014, and the French outfit are hopeful of sparking a bidding war between the North Londoners and Juventus, among others.

What would work in Arsenal’s favour is that the player is reportedly keen on a switch to England, and so a move to London would be preferable ahead of Turin.

A move to Newcastle was said to interest the forward in January, before their capture of Papiss Demba Cisse put paid to any potential move, and opened the door for Arsenal to step up their interest.

The last attacking recruit Arsenal made from a Ligue 1 side was Marouane Chamakh from Bordeaux, and although he enjoyed a fruitful start to his career at the Emirates, Gunners fans would hope that Giroud would offer a greater deal of consistency should he sign for the club.

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