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    Arsenal remain ‘strongly interested’ in Juventus defender Benatia


    According to Italian publication La Gazzetta Dello Sport, Premier League outfit Arsenal are continuing to express an interest in the signature of Juventus star Medhi Benatia.

    Reliable presence

    Benatia, a 31-year-old central defender, has been on the books of Juve since 2016, with his initial one-year loan deal from Bayern Munich having been made permanent by the Bianconeri for 17 million Euro last summer.

    After sitting behind the likes of Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli in the central defensive pecking order in Turin during his debut season with Juve, Benatia stepped up in a major way this past season following Bonucci’s departure for AC Milan.

    The Moroccan international, who is currently captaining his country at this summer’s World Cup, established himself as Max Allegri’s clear first-choice option to partner Giorgio Chiellini at the heart of the Old Lady’s backline, with Benatia having returned to his superb best in the process, playing a crucial role in the club’s domestic double and run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

    The African stopper even managed to find the net twice during the Coppa Italia final between the Bianconeri and Milan.

    On the move?

    However, somewhat surprisingly, despite his brilliance over the last 10 months, Benatia has been heavily linked with a summer departure from the Allianz Stadium over recent weeks, amid rumours that the former Udinese man has not been seeing eye-to-eye with manager Allegri of late.

    Reports in Italy have even gone as far as to claim that Juve are already on the lookout for Benatia’s replacement, with the likes of Diego Godin, Jose Gimenez, Matthijs De Ligt and Stefan Savic having all been named as targets for the Serie A champions.

    MADRID, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 27: Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid holds off Alvaro Morata of Chelsea during the UEFA Champions League group C match between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea FC at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on September 27, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

    Suitors

    To this point, the club most persistently touted as a potential destination for the stopper have been Ligue 1 outfit Marseille, where Benatia could reunite with former boss Rudi Garcia.

    However, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal have also been named as suitors of the Bianconeri star, with the aforementioned report from La Gazzetta Dello Sport having claimed that the latter remain ‘strongly interested’ in his signature.

    Despite having been expected to announce a deal some time ago, Arsenal are yet to complete their long-touted move for Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, with new Gunners’ boss Unai Emery said to be targeting a pair of central defensive additions this summer.

    Freiburg’s Çağlar Söyüncü has been the other name most heavily-touted as a potential arrival at the Emirates, but, as per reports in the Italian press, a move for Benatia, who is reportedly not viewed as unsellable by Juventus, is also being given serious consideration by the North London giants.

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