Arsene Wenger is confident of sealing a deal for Yann M’Vila – after moving to beat off Manchester United.
Wenger has been tracking the Rennes midfielder for more than a year and Arsenal are now trying to thrash out an £18m record deal on the French international.
But Arsenal have suddenly firmed up their move in the past few days after learning that United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has also come in for the 21-year-old powerhouse.
United have sent scouts to watch M’Vila for the past few weeks and Inter Milan and Bayern Munich have also shown an interest.
But United’s interest has been the catalyst to persuade Arsenal to move in quickly to tie up a deal even before the end of the season.
Arsenal have already agreed a £10m transfer for Cologne striker Lukas Podolski and the German international is a done deal for next season.
M’Vila is the next in and the Frenchman has already admitted that his desire to play for Arsenal will be the biggest factor in his decision. M’Vila said earlier this month: “If it is Wenger who asks you then of course that changes things.”
The arrival of M’Vila could throw up a question mark about the future of Alex Song, who like M’Vila, is a defensive midfielder even if some of his performances this season have been more impressive when he has been going forward.
Inter Milan have been looking at Song and Arsenal are well stocked with midfield talent with Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is seen as long term a central midfielder.
M’Vila is seen as one of the best prospects in Europe and a deal for him would also leave Arsenal hoping that Robin van Persie would see it as a statement of intent.
By John Cross