Arsenal are facing up to the prospect of missing out on securing the signature of highly-rated midfielder Krystian Bielik after Hamburg coach Josef Zinnbauer warned the Legia Warsaw starlet "isn't bluffing" about being interested in joining the Bundesliga club.
The Daily Mirror carries quotes from the 44-year-old German, which will concern Gunners supporters that were holding out hopes of landing the exciting young anchorman in the January transfer window.
Likened to Patrick Vieira in playing style, the 17-year-old has already made a senior breakthrough in his native Poland, and has been tipped for a bright future in the game with a high-profile European move understood to be in the pipeline.
A Premier League switch had been mooted in early 2015 after Gunners boss Arsene Wenger seemingly declared an interest in bringing the talented teenager to the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal are in desperate need of a new defensive midfielder, and whilst Bielik is unlikely to have provided an immediate solution his anticipated arrival in north London was starting to garner plenty of excitement.
However, as Wenger continues to haggle over a transfer fee - it was reported last week that Legia turned down an Arsenal bid because it fell well below their £2.3 million valuation - that expectation has turned into doubt after Zinnbauer's comments confirmed fans' worst fears that they could lose him to a rival suitor.
"Of course Arsenal are also interested but I don't think he is bluffing [about being interested in joining Hamburg], otherwise he didn't need to come to Hamburg," he explained.
"He is a really good boy who has very good build-up play. He would fit in perfectly with our philosophy."
According to The Times, Bielik travelled to Germany over the weekend to hold talks about a possible switch to the Imtech Arena, which was confirmed by Legia's president Boguslaw Lesnodorski.
Hamburg are currently struggling in 14th place in the Bundesliga table with 17 points from as many games in 2014/15, but the acquisition of the emerging Pole will help raise spirits around the club heading into the second half of the campaign.
The fact that - unlike Arsenal - Hamburg are willing to meet Legia's asking price puts them in pole position to proceed with negotiations that are expected to be concluded before the transfer window slams shut on February 3.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms