Morgan Schneiderlin has Arsenal battling with Serie A giants for £17m deal

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will have to fend off Serie A giants Napoli if he wants to sign Southampton midfield enforcer Morgan Schneiderlin in a £17m deal this summer, with the Metro reporting that Azzurri boss Rafael Benitez has identified the French ace as a top transfer target.

Schneiderlin has attracted a growing list of admirers this season thanks to a string of accomplished performances in central midfield for Saints, work that is often overlooked but absolutely crucial to Mauricio Pochettino's revolution on the South Coast.

The 24-year-old has maintained a passing accuracy of 89% across 33 Premier League appearances this term and it's that kind of consistency that has both Wenger and Benitez considering a formal transfer offer, although Saints are likely to hold out for at least £17m.

Chances of a big-money move for the man who surprisingly made France manager Didier Deschamps' standby list for the World Cup could also be affected by Saints plans for other topstars attracting interest, including captain Adam Lallana and teenage sensation Luke Shaw.

Wenger is a long-term admirer of Schneiderlin dating back to his days in the Football League with Saints and will continue to monitor his future closely, a stance Benitez also plans to adopt for the time being.

Saints hold all the cards though and are under no obligation to let a key figure under contract until 2017 walk away, without a sizeable fee at least, leaving Wenger in a difficult position as he weighs up whether one of the Premier League's unsung heroes is ready to step up and potentially replace Mikel Arteta in central midfield.

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