Arsenal have January option to sign international goalkeeper

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It looks increasingly likely that Shay Given will leave Manchester City in January after Roberto Mancini admitted he will find it difficult to keep hold of the goalkeeper.

Arsenal are the early frontrunners to sign the Irishman on loan as Arsene Wenger looks to ease his goalkeeping troubles.

Wenger has reportedly lost faith in current first choice stopper Manuel Almunia and tried desperately to bring Fulham gloveman Mark Schwarzer to the Emirates last month.

However, after Fulham's reluctance to sell the Australian, Arsenal have been forced to look elsewhere for a new number one - and Given has allegedly been identified as a target for the Gunners.

The 35-year-old has been displaced by Joe Hart at City and is desperate for a move away from Eastlands in order to play regular first team football.

And Mancini has Given the former Newcastle man a boost by saying he would not stand in his way if he wanted to leave Manchester in the New Year.

"I have a lot of respect for Shay. I told him this situation before the transfer market finished," Mancini said.

"I told him 'Shay you can chose, I hope you stay here but this is the situation for this moment but I respect your decision, if you want to leave you can'.

"He decided to stay here and until January he must stay here. I understand his situation but I need him to stay here with his head 100 percent on the work. I respect him because I played football.

"I understand if a player doesn't play it's difficult. If he decided to leave, he could have left one month ago and now he must wait until January.

"If he wants to leave I respect his decision because he is a fantastic man and a fantastic goalkeeper."

Arsenal were originally tipped to battle Newcastle for Given's signature after Magpies 'keeper Steve Harper was injured against Everton on Saturday.

However, the Tynesiders' boss Chris Hughton has ruled them out of the running - paving the way for Arsenal to swoop for Given.

Hughton said: "I can understand that one and it is a very emotional one as well, but no, I can categorically say that won't be happening."

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Manchester City
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Shay Given

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