Premier League title chasers Arsenal and Liverpool would appear to have been boosted in the race to sign Mathieu Valbuena, with the player himself having hinted at a potential summer move away from Marseille.
29-year-old Valbuena joined L'OM from minnows Libourne back in June 2006 and has become a crucial and highly-influential figure during his subsequent eight-year spell at the Stade Velodrome.
The diminutive international, who has won 30 senior caps for his native France, has made 17 appearances in Ligue 1 for José Anigo's side this season, with one goal and three assists to his name.
Heading into the January transfer window, it appeared as if there was mounting Premier League interest in the playmaker, with leaders Arsenal and Liverpool both linked with a potential move for Valbuena.
However, while it doesn't look likely that either Arsene Wenger or Brendan Rodgers will be able to prise the midfielder - who could be available for around £10 million - away from Marseille this month, a move at the end of the season could be a very realistic prospect indeed.
"A departure? To discover something else next season could be interesting," Valbuena told French broadcaster Telefoot in an interview that was quoted by the Daily Mirror.
"My goal is to make a great second half of the season in the club and make a great World Cup.
"It's been eight years since I am here at l'OM. I've never hidden that an experience abroad tempts me. We'll see..," he added.
Arsenal, whose somewhat nervy 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Monday night restored them to the summit of the top-flight at the expense of Manchester City, possess an abundance of attacking midfield talent and it is unclear what real need they have for Valbuena.
Liverpool, on the other hand, who have performed admirably under the tutelage of Rodgers so far this season, possess one of the league's most formidable strike partnerships in the form of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez but their strength in depth in midfield has recently been called into question.
Bringing a player of Valbuena's quality to Anfield could provide a major boost heading into next season - a year in which Liverpool supporters will hope to witness Champions League football once again.
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