Arsenal look set to edge Barcelona in fight for Celta star

Arsenal are continuing to finalise a deal for Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny, but the Gunners don’t look like stopping there this January and seem to have stolen the lead in the fight for Celta Vigo’s Nolito.

Talks have stalled between the striker and his current employers in Spain, but despite interest from La Liga giants Barcelona, it appears that Arsenal have stolen a march on grabbing the 29-year-old’s signature.

Reports from El Mundo Deportivo in Spain claim the Gunners are willing to meet the £13.4m buyout clause for a player who has netted eight times in 15 appearances this term.

Nolito spent three years with Barcelona between 2008 and 2011, but only made two league appearances for the first team, and it appears a return is not his preferred option.

Celta are enjoying a strong campaign in Spain this season, and have spent every week in the top five thus far.

Nolito has reached double figures in both of the previous two seasons, reaching 27 La Liga goals in that spell, and has also forged his way into the Spain’s national side.

The 5ft 9in forward would offer a very different alternative to Arsenal’s work-horse Olivier Giroud, providing Wenger with crucial options as he seeks up to three trophies this term.

With Danny Welbeck’s continued absence on the sidelines, and a disrupted spell for Alexis Sanchez in recent months, Wenger has seen Giroud perform admirably up front, however alternative options have been limited.

Joel Campbell has stepped up to become a first-team regular, but Theo Walcott has struggled to find consistent form.

The Gunners could still win a treble this season, but with a real shot of the Premier League, the arrival of a striker to provide Wenger with much-needed tactical options can’t come soon enough.

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