Arsenal are in pole position to sign promising French youngster Gilbert Imbula the Daily Mail understand.
The 20-year-old is a regular for Ligue 2 side Guingamp and has been watched heavily by scouts from the Emirates stadium, along with London rivals Chelsea and QPR, in recent months.
The Blues were believed to be leading the race for £8 million rated Imbula, dubbed ‘the new Patrick Vieira’, but have now been overtaken by the Gunners with Arsene Wenger said to be a huge fan of the defensive midfielder.
After allowing Alex Song to join Barcelona in the summer Wenger has been desperately searching for a replacement, with West Ham’s Mohamed Diama and Everton star Marouane Fellaini thought to be prominent names on his shopping list.
But the Arsenal boss is now pressing ahead with a surprise move for highly rated Imbula, who holds the record as the youngest player to take to the field in the division at 17 years, one month and four days old.
He will have to fend off Stamford Bridge counterpart Rafael Benitez and Ligue 1 giants Lyon if his to secure the French starlet’s signature before the transfer window shuts in two weeks time.
Promotion chasng Guingamp are reportedly prepared to do business for around £6m but only if the player is immediately loaned back to the Stade du Roudourou until the end of the season.