Newcastle United and Arsenal ‘target’ training alone over contract dispute with Portuguese giants

The Spanish defender has been linked with both Premier League clubs in the recent past.

Benfica left-back Alex Grimaldo is reportedly being forced to train on his own as negotiations over a new contract show no signs of reaching a successful conclusion.

The former Barcelona youngster was a reported target for Premier League rivals Newcastle United and Arsenal over the last few months as they look to take advantage of the uncertainty over his future at the Estadio da Luz.

The 26-year-old defender will enter the final year of his contract this summer and it seems likely his six-year stay in Portugal is coming to an end.

Grimaldo has been a mainstay of the Benfica side over that time as has established a fine reputation for himself with eye-catching performances in the Premeira Liga, Champions League and Europa League.

Despite the dispute over a new deal, the former Spanish youth international still made 47 appearances in all competitions last season as he helped Benfica reach the last eight of the Champions League before they suffered a 6-4 aggregate defeat against Liverpool.

Speaking amidst reported interest from Spurs, Juventus and former club Barcelona last summer, Benfica’s sporting director Tiago Pinto praised the left-back saying: "For me, Grimaldo is one of the best five left-backs in Europe.

“Many Benfica players are ready to, some day, play in a world class team. Grimaldo is good enough to play for any side right now.”

However, with his contract heading towards its conclusion, Portuguese outlet Record have suggested the player will train alone and will be left out of Benfica’s pre-season schedule, which includes a home friendly against Newcastle.

Another Portuguese news outlet, A Bola, have reported Benfica will demand a £15million fee for the defender, although the arrival of Matt Targett means Newcastle seem an unlikely destination.

That could allow Arsenal to have a free run at Grimaldo as Mikel Arteta looks to boost his options in a position that has been identified as an area of weakness.