Arsenal line up Rodrigo to replace Van Persie

Arsenal have lined up Spain under 21 international Rodrigo as a potential replacement for captain Robin van Persie, The Daily Mail reports.

Van Persie is out of contract at the end of next season and is attracting interest from Real Madrid. Spanish newspaper Marca stated Van Persie was excited at the prospect of moving to the Spanish capital, claims which the Dutchman strenuously denied on his Twitter account. The Dutchman has yet to enter contract talks with the club and Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood insists talks will not take place until the summer.

Rodrigo has an £18m escape clause in his contract at Benfica, where he has found the net 12 times in 20 appearances. The Brazilian born striker spent last season on loan at Bolton, but only managed to score once in 17 league outings. Arsenal face competition from Premier League rivals Manchester United and Manchester City for the striker, but are confident they can secure a deal.

Italian giants Inter Milan are also interested in the striker and could offer Benfica the £18m clause in order to snatch Rodrigo away from the Emirates Stadium. Rodrigo’s father Adalberto Machado has yet to rule out a move for the striker back to Real Madrid, who have instilled a buy-back clause in his Benfica contract. Machado claims that Rodrigo is content with life at Benfica, where he still has three years left on his deal.

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