Arsenal's hopes of signing Anderlecht striker Matias Suarez have been dealt a major blow after Barcelona entered the race for his signature, reports the London Metro.

The 23-year-old Argentine star has earned rave reviews for a series of impressive performances with the reigning Belgian champions, who crashed out of the Europa League last night after losing to AZ Alkmaar 2-0 on aggregate.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is a long-term admirer of Suarez, and is keen to bring him to the Emirates Stadium when the transfer window reopens this summer, after twice sending chief scout Steve Rowley to run the rule over the player this year.

Arsenal have enjoyed a strong relationship with Anderlecht in the past, and are hopeful that will give them the upper hand with negotiations over a £10million move to north London.

But, after Barcelona emerged as rival suitors, Wenger is increasingly keen to rush through a deal in a bid to ward off interest from the reigning European champions.

There are still some concerns over Suarez's work permit, which may put pay to Arsenal's plans, but either way it's highly likely that the club will make waves in the summer market as they look to strengthen their forward line.

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