Arsenal's pursuit of Auxerre striker Paul Georges Ntep took a new twist last night, with Ligue 1 side Rennes tabling a €5.5m in their attempt to steal a march on a whole host of European giants chasing the young forward.

Ntep has attracted the attention of Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain and Roma to name just a few with his performances so far this season, scoring seven goals in 17 Ligue 2 matches.

The 21-year-old has drawn public praise from Gunners boss Arsene Wenger but the Gunners are yet to table a formal bid, with Rennes beating the Premier League giants to it yesterday.

Rennes president Guy Cotret entered negotiations with his Auxerre counterpart Frederic de Saint-Sernin on Saturday, with RMC sport reporting that the two clubs are close to an agreement that will see the strike starlet step up to the French top flight.

There is still time for Arsenal or another interested party to hijack the deal though, with Ntep thought to be unconvinced that his long-term future lies at Rennes.

Arsenal have a history of securing talented youngsters from Auxerre, with Bacary Sagna, Abou Diaby and Bacary Sagna all leaving the French side for the Emirates in recent years.

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