Juventus are desperate to win the race for Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata that they have lodged a new formal offer of €18m this afternoon, leaving Arsenal with huge ground to make up if they're still serious about signing the Spanish starlet.
Morata has been a top target for both Juve and Arsenal ever since last season finally finished after making it clear he wants to leave Madrid in search of a star role and consistent first-team opportunities elsewhere.
Madrid have been forced to accept the situation because Morata has less than 12 months left on his current contract at the Bernabeu, but have proved stubborn negotiators in early talks over the 21-year-old's sale thus far.
Los Blancos are adamant that their best interests should be protected if Morata moves on the inclusion of a buy-back clause in the deal that gives the right to re-sign the forward at any point over the next three seasons, a proposal Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is unwilling to accept.
Juventus are much accepting of that clause but are some way off Madrid's valuation of a starlet that managed to score nine goals last season, despite today's offer which Spanish publication AS believes improves on their opening bid by €3m.
HERE COME THE WOLVES
Despite moving the goalposts slightly today Juve still have some way to go to match the lofty offer of €30m reportedly registered by ambitious Bundesliga force Wolfsburg, who have the resources to fund the switch but also see that pesky release clause as a stumbling block.
Wolfsburg have a pressing example of Madrid using that idea to their advantage from recent times in the Bundesliga, with Dani Carvajal shining for Bayer Leverkusen before being brought back to the Bernabeu in a cut-price deal in which the Champions League holders always held the better hand.
Inter Milan are also monitoring the situation closely, but Morata could still have the final say because his heart is set on a move to Turin.
Bianconeri boss Antonio Conte is desperate to build a squad capable of coping with the demands of Champions League football next season, which means that despite already boasting a strikeforce which includes Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez the youngster is his top target.
Morata nearly joined Arsenal in a January loan switch but Wenger has moved on to other targets thanks to what he views as outrageous demands made by Madrid, but Juve are willing to play the long game and attempt to find a compromise in search of a genuine transfer coup.