Napoli started negotiations with £92,000-a-week Arsenal centre-back

Sokratis Papastathopoulos is attracting interest from Napoli, who are hoping to acquire the London giants defender without paying a transfer fee, according to reports in Italy. Greece international has entered the final year of his deal and has fallen down the pecking order in the Spanish manager’s side.

Papastathopoulos didn’t feature once for Arsenal after the restart, with Mikel preferring to use Luiz, Mustafi and Tierney in a back three. With the arrival of Gabriel from French club, Arsenal now have nine defenders on their books, including Kostas Mavropanos, who has been sent out on a season-long loan to VfB Stuttgart.

Gunners may need to slim down their team to raise funds for their summer additions and Sokratis is one of the centre-backs that could be cut loose. The report states that the Gli Azzurri are in the market for a defender and they are interested in the Greek centre-back.

However, they are hoping for a scenario in which they can attain the 32-year-old defender without paying a transfer fee. Serie A giants lost out to Gunners on Magalhaes, while Man City are strongly linked with a move for their centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly.

Meanwhile, Rob Holding is reportedly set to join the Magpies on a season-long loan. However, Gunners legend Nigel Winterburn believes that between Holding, Sokratis, Mustafi and Chambers, Rob is the one most worth keeping.

‘I think there’ll be more than one of them going because Arsenal have got a host of centre-halves and it may come down to which players are going to be limited in appearances going forward,’ Winterburn said last month.