Arsenal and Chelsea to battle for Alvaro Arbeloa

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Arsenal and Chelsea are expected to compete for the signature of Real Madrid full-back Alvaro Arbeloa when the transfer window re-opens in January.

Reports in Spain claim Real Madrid are close to handing the club’s current first-choice right-back, Dani Carvajal, a lucrative long-term contract - and this, according to the Express, is likely to spell the end of Arbeloa’s five-year stay at the Bernabeu.

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Ancelotti has lost faith in Arbeloa

Arbeloa will be granted permission to find a new club by manager Carlo Ancelotti, leaving Arsenal and Chelsea to battle it out for the Spain international’s signature.

Arbeloa, 31, is an appealing option for both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho because he boasts experience of playing in both the Champions League and Premier League.

The defender spent two years with Liverpool before Real Madrid paid £5 million to secure his services in 2009.

Arbeloa was expected to leave the Bernabeu in the closing weeks of the transfer window, but a move failed to materialise. The Spaniard is reportedly unhappy at Real Madrid, having fallen down the pecking order, and was whistled by some of the club’s supporters last month - possibly perhaps of his difficult relationship with club legend Iker Casillas.

Chelsea hold advantage over Arsenal

Should Chelsea make a formal move, they may hold a significant advantage over Arsenal in the race for the defender’s signature thanks to Jose Mourinho.

Arbeloa was one of the few Real Madrid players who stood by the revered Portuguese coach in his final season at the Bernabeu, where there were all sorts of divisions amongst the club and coaching staff prior to Ancelotti’s arrival.

Competition for places

However, Arbeloa would face stiff competition for a first-team place at Stamford Bridge, where Branislav Ivanovic - despite having turned 30 last February - continues to excel. There’s an argument to suggest the Serbia international has been Chelsea’s most important player in the early weeks of the 2014/15 campaign.

Should Ivanovic suffer an injury or a dip in form, then Mourinho still has the reliable Cesar Azpilicueta to call on. The Spaniard has continued from where he left off last season and is currently keeping £15.8 million summer signing Filipe Luis out of the Blue’s starting line-up.

Arsenal have fewer options at right-back, with France international Bacary Sagna departing the Emirates Stadium for Manchester City this summer.

The Gunners subsequently snapped up Sagna’s international colleague Mathieu Debuchy, who enjoyed an encouraging start to his Arsenal career. But an injury to the French full-back would leave Arsenal worringly short.

That Arbeloa is also capable of playing at left-back will make him an even more attractive option for both Wenger and Mourinho - and possibly other top coaches - in the New Year.

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