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Gunners tracking Valencia striker Alcacer as Bendtner replacement

Odds-on FA Cup favourites Arsenal are keeping tabs on talented Valencia youngster Francisco ‘Paco’ Alcacer to fill their backup striking role behind Olivier Giroud, as Nicklas Bendtner is set to leave north London.

Tabloid reports claim Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has become interested in Spain Under-21 cap Alcacer, 20, after breaking into Los Che’s first-team under new coach Juan Antonio Pizzi.

Alcacer has scored 10 goals in 23 appearances for Valencia so far this term after coming through Mestalla outfit’s academy. Danish frontman Bendtner, meanwhile, is out of contract at the Emirates this summer and will be seeking new pastures.

This will leave Arsenal short up front with French pair Olivier Giroud and young Yaya Sanogo, who struggled with a back problem this term, as their only natural options. Germany forward Lukas Podolski can play as a striker, but Wenger has utilised him in his preferred position on the left flank.

Despite being linked with star names like Diego Costa, Karim Benzema, Mario Mandzukic and Luis Suarez in recent transfer windows, the Gunners often give young talent a chance to flourish. Alcacer would fit into this template nicely.

Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, who won the Under-21 European Championship with Spain last summer and he was top-scorer, is another target for Arsenal. Wenger faces competition from London neighbours Tottenham to sign him.

Alcacer made an assist in Valencia colours during their 3-0 Europa League last 16 first leg victory over surprise Bulgarian package Ludogorets Razgrad, Los Che are now 10/1 fourth favourites to lift the trophy.

Up next for the Gunners is the derby against Spurs. Both sides going into this meeting off the back of defeats in their respective European competitions. Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League after a 3-1 aggregate loss to holder and 15/8 favourites Bayern Munich.

Tottenham, meanwhile, suffered their first home Europa League defeat of the campaign when Tim Sherwood’s side went down 3-1 to Benfica. Coral rate a draw at 11/5 the most likely outcome between Spurs and the Gunners when they meet at White Hart Lane.