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Arsenal eye Benfica defender Ruben Dias as Koscienly replacement

Arsenal are eyeing a move for highly-rated Benfica defender Ruben Dias, as the club prepare for the departure of unsettled captain Laurent Koscielny.

Arsenal captain Koscielny has refused to join the club on their pre-season tour of the US, with the veteran defender having informed the club of his desire to leave this summer and return to his native France.

Koscielny’s request to leave was rejected by Arsenal, the club keen to keep the centre-back who has a year remaining on his contract at the Emirates.

Despite Arsenal’s initial stance that the Frenchman would remain at the club, the club are now seeking a replacement in a bid to avoid disruption ahead of the new campaign.

According to the Daily Mail, Unai Emery will target a move for Benfica’s Dias, who shone as the Lisbon side won the Portuguese title last season.

Dias has impressed since breaking into the Benfica side, making over 100 appearances and helping the Portugal national side to Nations League success this summer.

The 22-year-old would be unlikely to come cheap, with Dias having a release clause of around £54m. Arsenal would likely need to raise funds through player sales before pursuing a deal, the club reported to have a budget of just £45m this summer having failed to secure Champions League qualification.

Arsenal were reported to be desperate to add to their defensive options this summer, having seen familiar flaws exposed last season. The club currently possess just three senior centre-backs, including Shkodran Mustafi who the club are keen to move on.

Koscielny’s snub of the club’s pre-season tour is likely to see the club step up their pursuit of defensive additions, with a move for Dias set to be launched.

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