Liverpool and Arsenal both have their sights set on Lille youngster Eden Hazard, but will delay a move until the summer at least.
The Belgian sensation has attracted the interest of the Premier League giants for some time but neither club is willing to swoop until the 20-year-old's French employers make him available.
Both Liverpool director of football strategy Damien Comolli and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger have responded in the affirmative when questioned about the versatile attacker over the past few days and the two clubs are likely to battle for his signature at some point in the future.
"We want a forward because we lack pace and penetration on the flanks," said Liverpool supremo, Comolli, on French television.
"[Lille attacker] Gervinho and Hazard are super players but I know the Lille board well and they won't sell in January."
Likewise, Wenger has confirmed his interest in Belgium international but admitted he did not want to disrupt the Ligue 1 club.
"He's a player that I have followed for some time, but I do not want to unsettle Lille now," explained Wenger.
"When he is available for transfer, we will see if there is the possibility to sign him."
Dubbed the 'next Samir Nasri' in France, it is no wonder that Liverpool and Arsenal are monitoring his progress.
Valued at €18 million, Hazard has been in the Lille first team for over three years - quite a feat at his age - and has been instrumental in their ascent to the top of the table this season.
He would be an exciting option for either Liverpool or Arsenal - with the former keen to emulate the latter by attracting Europe's best young talent to Anfield.
Liverpool owners New England Sports Ventures have made it their aim to develop a younger playing squad and Comolli has been tasked with bringing precocious youngsters to the club.
However, Liverpool will do well to beat the Gunners to Hazard, who is thought to favour a move to the Emirates Stadium.
"As I said many top managers and clubs are interested in Eden. Arsenal have a lot of French players, and Eden is from Belgium, so language would not be a problem," a source close to the player told Sport.co.uk.
"He is a talented young player like many Arsenal player, but we will have to wait and see.”
Another source told the Daily Mail: “There is even something of Sami Nasri about him. He can play on either flank or through the middle, and he has great pace and technique. Arsenal would suit him perfectly.”
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