Arsenal are weighing up a January bid for James McCarthy after spending the past three months scouting the highly-rated Everton midfielder.
According to the Irish Independent, the Gunners have been keeping tabs on the 24-year-old since October, but are reluctant to meet the Toffees' £25 million valuation.
The Red Devils have also been heavily linked with a move for the Republic of Ireland international, so Roberto Martinez knows that he will be under no pressure to sell McCarthy on the cheap.
After following the Spanish tactician from Wigan Athletic to Goodison Park in the summer of 2013 in a £13 million deal, McCarthy has seen his value soar after an impressive debut campaign on Merseyside.
Everton can expect to make close to a 100 per cent profit if they do decide to cash-in, but it remains to be seen if Arsenal meet the asking price given Arsene Wenger's historically frugal transfer market strategy.
However, the Frenchman has made a defensive midfielder his number one priority at the start of 2015, and will probably have to accept paying over the odds for any prospective signing in the mid-season window.
The extensive scouting reports produced on McCarthy certainly suggests that Arsenal hold a genuine interest in bringing the player to north London, after seemingly paying much closer attention to his development in 2014 than rival suitors Manchester United.
Louis van Gaal has been linked with a number of different midfield acquisitions from Kevin Strootman to Arturo Vidal, and in comparison to those higher-profile players the arrival of McCarthy at Old Trafford might turn out to be a slightly underwhelming signing for Red Devils supporters.
Interest in the Irishman is not exclusive to the Premier League, with Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini reportedly monitoring the situation closely, as he considers an ambitious attempt to lure McCarthy to the San Siro.
It's anticipated that he would probably prefer to remain in England rather than move to Italy, though, so Arsenal won't be too worried about speculation regarding the Serie 'A' giants.
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