Arsenal's hopes of securing the services of highly-rated goalkeeper Freddie Woodman have been dealt a blow after Southampton joined the race for the Newcastle United starlet's signature.
According to the Daily Mail, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is keen to bring the England U19 international to the Emirates Stadium, but now faces stiff competition from the fellow Champions League hopefuls.
Saints have gained a reputation for the successful nurturing and development of bright young talent in recent years, thanks to the south coast club's esteemed youth academy.
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Over the past few seasons they've produced players like Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and most recently Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers thanks to their philosophy of promoting from within and providing a clear pathway to the first-team.
Since taking over at St Mary's last summer Ronald Koeman has handed senior debuts to a number of burgeoning stars of the future, and that could help convince Woodman to choose Southampton over Arsenal should he decide to depart St James' Park at the end of the season.
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The fact first-choice stopper Fraser Forster - another former Magpie - suffered a serious knee injury last week could also pave way for a new custodian to nail down the number one spot, a target that is unlikely to be as attainable at the Emirates Stadium.
With David Ospina currently Wenger's preferred option between the sticks, Arsenal also have Wojciech Szczesny and Damian Martinez fighting for that place in the starting line-up, so Woodman should think very carefully before committing to north London.
The 18-year-old is yet to make a senior appearance for Newcastle but has featured on the bench in the Premier League, and is widely regarded as one of the biggest prospects in the English game.
Interim manager John Carver wants to keep Woodman on Tyneside, but the fact the club are unwilling to loan him out next season means the talented teenager could be forced to pursue a transfer.
His departure would result in a compensation package of around £1 million being paid out by the suitor that successfully clinches the deal, with the promise of regular football expected to be the decisive factor behind Woodman's decision.
Which club should Freddie Woodman join - Arsenal or Southampton? Or should he snub interest from both of those suitors and stay at Newcastle United? Have your say below...
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