ARSENAL are thought to be in pole position to sign Women’s World Cup-winning Japan star Mana Iwabuchi.
The Telegraph claims Iwabuchi is being eyed as a replacement for Netherlands forward Jill Roord following her departure from the Gunners for Wolfsburg.
It is thought Arsenal, who finished third to qualify for next term’s Women’s Champions League, are looking to bolster their attacking ranks.
Roord, 24, netted seven goals for the club in 19 WSL games this term.
These include hat-tricks against Reading and West Ham.
Iwabuchi, who has attracted interest from Arsenal in the past, has been making waves at Aston Villa.
The Japan international helped the Midlands club retain their WSL spot following a topsy-turvy battle against relegation.
Results include a hard-fought point against the Gunners, restricting them to a goalless draw during Joe Montemurro’s final league game in charge of Arsenal.
Iwabuchi, 28, whose Women’s Super League switch was announced in December, netted two goals in 13 top-flight appearances for Villa.
The former Bayern Munich forward plied her trade at top-flight Japan side INAC Kobe Leonessa before making her move to England.
It is reported Iwabuchi – who won the Women’s World Cup in 2011 with Japan – was a transfer target for Arsenal, who play Crystal Palace in the fifth round of the Women’s FA Cup.
In February Montemurro, 52, – who is set to leave the club – revealed the forward had been on his radar for more than a year.
The Gunners boss told fans site Arseblog: “Mana was a player of interest to me for around 18 months or so.
“Firstly we had a few challenges with her national team who wanted their players in and around Japan for the World Cup and then the (2020) Olympics.
“Initially we had planned around that but then the Olympic games were cancelled.
“We had to look at other alternatives but Mana is a player I have always admired and feel that she suits our style.”
Villa, who today confirmed the departures of head coach Gemma Davis and interim manager Marcus Bignot, two rising star academy forwards to their senior squad this year.
Strikers Freya Gregory, 18, and Isobel Goodwin, 19, both signed their first professional contracts this term.
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