Arsenal have taken significant steps towards a summer move for Athletic Bilbao’s Javi Martinez.
The versatile Spain international has been coveted by Barcelona and Manchester United after his excellent displays but features prominently on Arsene Wenger’s summer shopping list.
A senior Arsenal scout watched the 23-year-old in Bilbao’s 3-1 Europa League win over Sporting Lisbon on Thursday and Martinez impressed as Marcelo Bielsa’s side progressed to the final.
Rennes’ £20m-rated Yann M’Vila remains the Arsenal manager’s preferred signing but Wenger has decided not to pin all his hopes on the France international.
Martinez, 23, could cost more given he has a £32m buyout clause but Arsenal would hope to negotiate.
Anderlecht midfielder Lucas Biglia is another option for Wenger but Real Madrid are in pole position for the Argentine.