Arsenal are ready to launch a cut-price £9 million offer for Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko the moment the January transfer window opens, but that bid is likely to be rebuffed.
The Gunners are clearly hoping to take advantage of turmoil in the North East to secure their top transfer target on the cheap, with Newcastle manager Alan Pardew on the verge of leaving to take charge of Crystal Palace.
Pardew was forced to sell his best midfielder last January and Newcastle will do business again if the price is right, which puts the pressure on Arsenal to come up with a serious bid in January or move on to other targets.
Arsenal need power in midfield
Sissoko would certainly provide Arsenal with the kind of power, presence and experience they've lacked at key times during the first half of the season, thanks to a combination of injury problems and the lack of a major summer signing in that position.
The Gunners believe that the French international would be receptive to a mid-season switch, primarily because he shared a strong relationship with Pardew and would be hugely disappointed to see him leave.
Ashley prepared to do business
The Independent believe that Arsenal will test the water with an offer below the £10m for Sissoko later this week, despite annoying Newcastle with a similar offer for Yohan Cabaye last season.
The 25-year-old's future remains very much in limbo, although Newcastle hold all the cards in these negotiations and have the played under contract until 2019.
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley's number one priority at this stage will be finding the right replacement for Pardew and quickly, but ultimately the shrewd businessmen will be hard pressed to turn down a bid for Sissoko in January should their valuation of the player be met.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is always conscious of not paying over the odds for primary transfer targets, but if he wants strength in depth for the second half of the season he may have to buck that trend in negotiations for Sissoko.