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Arsenal ramp up interest in double deal for Destro and Hamsik

Arsenal, 7/4 with Coral to finish outside the top four, have been linked with a sensational double swoop in the winter window, with Arsene Wenger looking to mount a credible challenge to ensure his side snatch a Champions League spot.

Napoli and Slovenia skipper Marek Hamsik and Roma’s Italy-capped striker Mattia Destro are believed to be top of the Gunners’ Christmas wishlist, with moves for the Serie A stars a possibility in January.

These links may seem unlikely, given that the north Londoners really need to bolster their backline, but wily Wenger is always looking to improve the Gunners’ attacking arsenal.

If the Premier League giants, who face Wenger’s former club Monaco in the Champions League last-16, are to prise the pair from Italy, they may have to raise the funds from player sales.

Out-of-favour frontmen Joel Campbell and Lukas Podolski are said to be set for an Emirates exit, with Arsenal aiming to put their potential transfer fees to good use immediately.

Dangerous Destro has often struggled to secure a regular starting spot in attack at the Stadio Olimpico, despite his fine scoring record for Roma.

The Inter Milan academy graduate was on target 12 times in 20 Serie A games last term and has long been mooted for a move to the Premier League.

It is thought the Gunners are now in pole position to land the skilful 23-year-old forward, who would challenge France frontman Olivier Giroud to lead the line for Wenger.

A deal of around £15m is rumoured to have been discussed with the Italian capital club, who reportedly want to raise money themselves after crashing out of the Champions League.

Negotiating with Napoli for Hamsik’s services is likely to be much tougher, with the Neapolitan team notorious for milking top dollar from any prospective buyers.

Captain for both club and country, Hamsik has notched up five goals and six assists across all competitions this season, despite being considered to be off pace at the moment.

A blockbuster bid for the 27-year-old may have to wait until summer, though, as Arsenal, outsiders at 22/1 to win the Champions League, are already overstocked with attacking midfielders.

The Slovenia international found himself dropped recently, however, with Napoli boss Rafa Benitez overlooking his captain for a crunch clash against AC Milan.

Hamsik is renowned for his lung busting runs and eye for a sensational strike so, while the skipper is out of form and favour, Wenger may take the opportunity to turn his head.

Benitez is unlikely to let the spiky-haired star leave Serie A without a fight, so Arsenal may have to dig deep once again, if they are to transform their side for a Champions League place push.