Manchester United and Liverpool have lost ground in the race to sign Alexis Sanchez this summer after the Barcelona winger held secret talks with Arsene Wenger over a possible £20 million move to Arsenal.
According to the Daily Express, sources in Italy claim the Chile international is high on the north London club's list of transfer priorities, and the Gunners boss has seized an opportunity to meet with Sanchez personally while out in Brazil commentating on the World Cup for French TV station TF1.
The 25-year-old has been the subject of widespread speculation in recent months with suggestions that the talented forward will depart Camp Nou ahead of the 2014/15 campaign.
Barcelona's new manager Luis Enrique is believed to be willing to listen to offers for Sanchez, prompting a number of admiring glances from suitors in the Premier League.
MAN UNITED INTEREST
Louis van Gaal has been credited with an interest in bringing the player to Old Trafford, while Brendan Rodgers has also been mooted as an admirer of the wide-man, as he looks to strengthen his first-team squad at Anfield ahead of the Reds' return to the Champions League next season.
However, Arsenal are thought to be ahead of Manchester United and Liverpool at the front of the queue, following positive negotiations between Wenger and Sanchez's representatives regarding a switch to the Emirates Stadium.
WORLD CUP PLAUDITS
Sanchez has been one of the standout players at the World Cup this summer, playing an instrumental role as Chile booked their place in the knockout stages after finishing as runners up behind the Netherlands in Group B.
His virtuoso performance in the 2-0 victory over holders Spain last week garnered widespread praise, and the Barcelona man can now look forward to a last 16 clash against Brazil when Jorge Sampaoli's side meet the host nation in Belo Horizonte on June 28.
All eyes will be on Sanchez, who has so far not let speculation regarding his club future distract him, but don't expect any business to be finalised until after the completion of the tournament.
Sanchez scored 19 goals in 44 appearances for Barcelona in 2013/14, and should he secure a move to Arsenal he would certainly strengthen their attacking options having relied so heavily on lone striker Olivier Giroud last season.