Premier League clubs are set to go head-to-head in the race to sign Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

The 23-year-old French international has been heavily linked with a move to the English top flight in the past, with Arsenal said to be amongst the clubs courting the versatile centre back.

However, reports in The Times claim Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has set his sights on the player, who could cost the Toon in excess of £5 million to bring to St James' Park.

Yanga-Mbiwa helped his club to Ligue 1 glory last season, and was a standout performer at the back for MHSC. Indeed, the youngster wore the captain’s armband for much of the season at the Stade de la Mosson.

His form led to speculation over a move, with both Arsenal and Chelsea reportedly keen in the summer.

However, after impressing against the Gunners in the Champions League, the player confessed that he wanted to play for Manchester United.

"My dream is to play with the shirt of Manchester United in a match in Old Trafford,” he told French Football magazine last month.

“My favourite club is Manchester United without doubt.”

That hasn’t stopped Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger from being linked with a move, and The Independent today (Thursday) claimed that the Yanga-Mbiwa was being lined-up as a replacement for Bacary Sagna.

But, with Newcastle also linked, a move to the Emirates Stadium is by no means guaranteed, and the two clubs could be on a transfer collision course at a later stage in the current transfer window.

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