Arsenal have opened initial talks with Southampton over a potential deal for Morgan Schneiderlin, sources have told ESPN.
The France international is believed to be on the top of Arsene Wenger's summer transfer wish list with the Gunners boss keen to reinforce his options in midfield.
Francis Coquelin is the current first-choice for Wenger, but should the 23-year-old succumb to injury, the unconvincing Mathieu Flamini would come in to cover.
Mikel Arteta, who has been out with a calf injury since November, is returning to full fitness but is not renowned for his rugged defensive work, rather his sublime ability to pass.
Schneiderlin embodies both of these qualities and, as a result, has attracted the interest from Chelsea and Tottenham as well as Arsenal.
A £25m deal
But it is the Gunners who have made the first official move for the player, informing the Saints that they are interested in signing the player this summer.
They have yet to make an official offer but Southampton will be looking for around £25million to let the 25-year-old leave St Mary's.
Arsenal have a summer transfer budget of £50m, which includes new wages, and would therefore be able to meet Southampton's demands and have some change to spare.
It is not known where else Wenger plans to strengthen but a number of sources believe Chelsea's Petr Cech is a prime target should Jose Mourinho allow him to leave for a Premier League rival.
Cech is likely to cost Arsenal in the region of £10m, which may seem steep for a 32-year-old with one-year left on his contract, but the goalkeeper's quality surely makes it a worthwhile acquisition.
There have also been calls for Wenger to sign a new striker with many still believing Olivier Giroud is not good enough.
A new striker?
However, the French striker's 12 goal haul in the Premier League has impressed the Arsenal boss. It is particularly impressive when you take into account the fact that he was injured from late August until early January.
With Chuba Akpom coming through the ranks and Danny Welbeck also able to play up front, it would be a surprise to see Wenger blow a large chunk of his budget on an upgrade to Giroud.
Of course, Arsenal's top scorer this season is Alexis Sanchez, who is not a striker at all, while Theo Walcott is also expected to return to goal scoring ways on the right side next season.
Do Arsenal need a new striker or would you rather see Arsene Wenger sign Morgan Schneiderlin and Petr Cech. Remember, he will NOT have enough money for all three.
Give us YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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