Arsenal have been warned they must pay £32million to sign Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid next month. The Gunners have repeatedly scouted the 25-year-old during a season in which he has scored 21 goals in as many matches since replacing Radamel Falcao as the club’s principal striker.

Arsene Wenger is believed to have sent chief scout Steve Rowley to Spain with instructions to report back on Costa’s final two matches before their winter break: a Copa del Rey tie against Sant Andreu and a league game against Levante.

Arsenal are keen on bringing in a centre forward next month despite the return to full fitness of Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott, who both provide alternatives to Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner.

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema remains high on Wenger’s list but Costa’s superb form has attracted attention from a number of other clubs including Chelsea.

Atletico will face AC Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League, meaning Costa would be ineligible for European competition were he to move to Emirates Stadium next month.

However, for that to happen, Wenger will have to meet Costa’s release clause because Atletico remain unwilling to sell one of their most prized assets given their progress this season.

Standard Sport understands Arsenal are yet to fully explore the nuances of Costa’s buy out clause — mindful of the complications they faced when attempting to trigger a similar aspect of Luis Suarez’s contract at Liverpool last summer — but they have been told it will cost them £32m to prompt a move.

Arsenal have the funds despite spending £42.4m on Mesut Ozil in the final throes of the last window but Wenger is yet to decide whether Costa is worth that figure.

There is also uncertainty over whether the player would be keen on a move. He is thought to be open to the idea of playing in the Premier League but is desperate to play for Spain at the World Cup and may wish to remain there for the time being.

Costa was born in Brazil but was granted Spanish nationality earlier this year after a tug of war between the two countries.


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