Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is preparing to fight off an Arsenal bid for towering defender Brede Hangeland.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is expected to offer around £15million for the 6ft 5ins Norwegian international captain who he sees as the perfect replacement for Kolo Toure who is on the verge of joining Manchester City for around the same fee.
Wenger has been a long-time admirer of Hangeland, the 28-year-old whose composure under pressure and superb aerial command were pivotal to Fulham finishing a club-record seventh in the Premier League.
But Hodgson, already working with one of the League’s smallest first team squads, is determined to keep a player he believes is vital to Fulham’s attempt to combine a challenge for another top 10 finish with their foray into the new Europa League, which begins with a third qualifying round, first-leg tie at Lithuanian side FK Vetra on Thursday.
Hangeland, signed from FC Copenhagen in January 2008 for £2.5m, has two years remaining on his current contract but talks on a new deal have been on-going.
It is believed Hangeland has received a double-your-money offer from Fulham which would see his wages rise from £15,000 a week to £30,000.
Negotiations between Hangeland’s representatives and Fulham chief executive Alistair Mackintosh were put on hold over the summer when the player got married and went on a honeymoon but they were set to resume this week.
Aware that Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham have also been watching Hangeland, Hodgson had been making contingency plans in case he did lose his star turn.
He is believed to have made a player plus cash offer for Hull City’s £9 million-rated Michael Turner, but that deal involved Bobby Zamora joining Phil Brown’s side and the striker has chosen to stay at Craven Cottage.
Hodgson has also been giving first team squad experience to tall teenager Chris Smalling, but after coming on for Hangeland in a friendly at Peterborough on Saturday he made two basic errors leading to goals that resulted in a 3-3 draw.