Arsenal after Romania striker

Arsenal are closing in on the signing of Romania international Ciprian Marica, the Express understands.

The 27 year old striker is available on a free transfer, and has been targeted by Arsene Wenger, who remains desperately short of strikers following the closing of the transfer window.

West Ham United are also interested in signing the former Schalke man, who has also been linked with moves to Lazio, Inter Milan and former club Shakhtar Donetsk.

Marica began his career at Dinamo Bucharest, before moving to Shakthar and then on to the Bundesliga, firstly with Stuttgart and then Schalke, while internationally he has 22 goals in 63 appearances.

With Lukas Podolski currently injured, first choice forward Olivier Giroud’s only real back up is returning striker Nicklas Bendtner and France U20 international Yaya Sanogo, though Theo Walcott, who has often expressed a desire to lead the line for the club, is another option.

Meanwhile, the Daily Star understand that the Gunners will battle Manchester United for the signing of Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke when the transfer window reopens in January.

The Belgium international, who scored 19 goals last season, had submitted a transfer request in the summer, only to make a dramatic U-turn and sign a new contract at Villa Park.Unit

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