Arsene Wenger has switched his focus away from Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender towards Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin, reports The Mirror.
The Arsenal manager is in the market for deep-lying midfielder this summer and has ran the rule over several options. Bender has been a long-term target for Wenger, but reported interest from Barcelona is forcing him to look elsewhere.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has labelled him as a top target for when their transfer ban is lifted, making Schneiderlin a likely alternative for the Gunners. The report linked to above says Wenger is preparing a summer move for the France international.
Schneiderlin has been a key player for the Saints this season, helping them to an incredibly impressive fourth place in the Premier League – one place above Arsenal. However, having failed to secure a move away last summer, the 25-year-old will again be looking to move to one of the bigger clubs.
Arsenal are confident they will land their man despite reported interest from both Tottenham and Manchester United. Mauricio Pochettino made an impression on Schneiderlin during his time in charge at St Mary's but the lure of the Emirates Stadium and the chance to work under a French football icon in Wenger may prove too strong.
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Louis van Gaal has also been linked with a move for Schneiderlin with doubts over Kevin Strootman's long-term fitness. The AS Roma man has been on the Old Trafford radar since Van Gaal took over, but his failure to recover from a serious knee injury leaves a bid in doubt.
Regardless, Arsenal believe making Schneiderlin their priority signing for the summer will keep them ahead of their Premier League rivals with a bid for Borussia Dortmund's Ilkay Gundogan likely to materialise if they fail.
Bad news for some
The deal will mean an end to Mathieu Flamini's role in the first team squad with the midfielder likely to see out the last year of his contract as back-up. Francis Coquelin, who has been so impressive since return from a loan spell at Charlton Athletic, will feel particularly aggrieved.
Coquelin, 23, recently committed to a four-year contract, but would almost certainly drop to the bench to make way for someone of Schneiderman's quality. Alternatively, Wenger may use Coquelin's recent upturn in form to get a decent transfer fee for him in the summer.
Would you cash in on Coquelin if Schneiderlin arrives in the summer? What price would do you think Arsenal should sell him for? Give us your views in the comments box below!
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