Arsene Wenger is hoping to beat Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham to the signature of Joao Moutinho next summer after identifying the AS Monaco star as the man he wants to replace Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.
The Express reports that the Gunners boss is willing to meet the Ligue 1 club's £30 million valuation, so desperate is he to add a world-class defensive midfielder to his squad at the Emirates.
Moutinho was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League during the summer, following speculation that Louis van Gaal wanted to bring the Portugal international to Old Trafford.
The 28-year-old has the same agent as Radamel Falcao, and although it was revealed that the Red Devils had been in talks with the representative, it was in fact to discuss the season-long loan of the Colombian striker - not a prospective transfer for Moutinho.
However, rumours of Manchester United's alleged interest have not gone away, mainly because of Van Gaal's lack of quality midfield options - even after signing Daley Blind and Ander Herrera as part of his £150 million spend in the summer.
Blind actually picked up an injury during the international break, while Herrera has suffered an interrupted start to life in England, so the Dutch coach might well re-enter the market for another midfield addition when the transfer window reopens in January.
Arsenal will be monitoring the situation closely, and will be determined not to miss out on the €67,000-a-week star, particularly in light of Monaco's recent change in philosophy as they attempt to adhere to Financial Fair Play guidelines.
Jose Mourinho is also a known admirer of his compatriot, and has been linked in the past with bringing Moutinho to Stamford Bridge. But, given the Blues boss' strength in that area of his squad, it would be a surprise to see Chelsea move for the player next year.
White Hart Lane was sounded out as a potential destination for the want-away midfielder during the former tenure of Andre Villas-Boas, although current Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino might also hold an interest in recruiting Moutinho as he looks to improve his side's fortunes in 2015.
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