Arsenal are leading Liverpool in the race to sign Montpellier forward Olivier Giroud, according to the Metro.

The highly-rated Frenchman has been closely watched by several of Europe's top clubs, but a move to the Premier League seems most likely, with Arsenal and Liverpool heading the chase.

And, according to Giroud's Montpellier coach Rene Girard, the French striker is close to clinching a move to the Gunners, with only a fee left to be agreed.

Speaking to the French radio station RMC, Girard said: "Arsenal are very interested and Giroud wants to play in England. If Arsene Wenger agrees with the president, he will sign for them."

Formal talks over a fee are yet to begin, but Giroud's contract includes a release clause price of £12.8m, so the Gunners would likely begin negotiations below the figure.

Reports have also suggested that Wenger could be tempted to include former-Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh as part of the deal to land Giroud, and the Montpellier coach is open to the swap.

"We would like Chamakh on loan, as part of the Giroud deal, but I don't know if it is possible," said Girard.

The French international is currently with the national squad at Euro 2012, and has insisted that all talks regarding his future be placed on hold until after the tournament.

The 25-year-old Frenchman is under contract with the Ligue 1 side until 2014, but he could prove an excellent partner for Robin van Persie at the Emirates Stadium.

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