Arsenal have moved into pole position to sign French international goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier and have now been set a deadline of June 30th to complete the deal by his club Saint-Etienne, according to French publication But!
Ruffier was ever present in Ligue 1 last season and did enough to earn a place in France's World Cup squad as cover for number one Hugo Lloris, but his long-term future at club level remains very much in doubt.
The 27-year-old has just over a year left on his deal with Saint-Etienne and is currently being courted by a host of clubs across the continent with a view to a cut-price summer deal, a race Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has entered over the last week.
Wenger sees Ruffier as an experienced player capable of replacing the departed Lukasz Fabianski and challenging Wojciech Szczesny for a starting spot next season, but only has a short window of opportunity to get the deal done.
Saint-Etienne have reportedly made it clear they won't consider selling Ruffier beyond June 30th because they won't have time to adequately replace the former Monaco stopper, but Arsenal have a distinct advantage over other potential suitors including Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Roma.
That's because Ruffier has a preference for the Premier League if he does decide to move on this summer, with the ball now in Arsenal's court to turn tentative early talks with the player's representative into a genuine offer.