Nigeria are accelerating their attempts to snatch Arsenal wonderkid Bukayo Saka from England.
The 18-year-old is emerging as a real contender to break into Gareth Southgate’s squad following a string of excellent displays for his club.
He has represented England at junior level and currently plays for the Under 19 side but he is in line — at the very least — for a promotion to the Under 21s, reports the Daily Mail.
Nigeria are prepared to fast-track the left-sided utility player into the senior set-up in the hope of persuading him to choose an international career with the Super Eagles.
Their ploy to tempt Saka has taken a back seat in recent weeks owing to the long delay in international football due to coronavirus. But with national team matches due to return in September, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will ramp up their efforts, with Saka still to make a final decision.
In recent years, Nigeria have successfully persuaded Alex Iwobi, Ola Aina and Victor Moses to switch allegiance from England.
However, they failed in their bid to entice Chelsea pair Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori earlier this season after both players committed their international futures to England.
Meanwhile, Arsenal are readying their first move to try to tie down captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with a contract offer in the region of £250,000-a-week before bonuses.
Aubameyang’s deal, worth an initial £200,000 a week, expires next summer. Manager Mikel Arteta is keen for the striker’s future to be resolved swiftly — telling the club this week ‘the quicker we do it, for me personally, the better’ — and an opening offer is set to be made.
Arteta is optimistic of a positive outcome, though Arsenal will need to convince Aubameyang, 31, that his future lies at the Emirates, both with their financial terms and plans to strengthen the squad.
Despite Aubameyang’s 25 goals this season Arsenal are 10th in the Premier League but they have one last chance of silverware after reaching the FA Cup final thanks to his semi-final brace against Manchester City.
Since joining Arsenal in 2018 Aubameyang has scored 66 goals in 107 games but has no trophies to show for his efforts, having lost in the finals of the 2018 EFL Cup and the 2019 Europa League.