Arsenal target wanted by Serie A duo

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Fiorentina will compete with Arsenal for the January signing of Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano, according to reports in Italy.

The Argentine midfielder emerged as a transfer target for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger over the summer, but Arsenal's interest cooled after they completed the free transfer signing of former-Gunner Mathieu Flamini.

And the talkSPORT report claims two Serie A clubs - Fiorentina and Napoli - now lead the race for Mascherano.

Barcelona have often played the former-Liverpool midfielder out of position at centre-back. And Mascherano, who played under Rafa Benitez at Anfield, has been tipped to re-join his former boss in Italy.

But Fiorentina will consider a January move for the international if Mascherano indicates he'd be willing to leave the Catalan giants.

The 29-year-old admitted earlier this summer that he still speaks regularly with Benitez, sparking speculation that he could be set for Napoli.

But the transfer deadline came and went with the Argentine still at the Nou Camp.

The report claims Arsenal were interested in Mascherano until they completed a deal for out-of-contract French midfielder Flamini.

And the Gunners splashed out for another midfielder - Mesut Ozil - albeit an attacking midfield option, in a club record £42.5m deal on transfer deadline day.

Wenger has been linked with a move for a defensive midfielder since Arsenal sold Alex Song to Barcelona last summer.

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