Arsenal are hoping that they have not left it too late in their efforts to sign Villarreal midfielder Santi Cazorla.
With the Cesc Fabregas saga seemingly still no closer to being resolved, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is keen to identify potential signings in case his captain needs replacing.
Valencia’s Juan Manuel Mata is one name that has already been linked this summer, but now it is third Spaniard Cazorla that is generating the greater interest.
The 26-year-old has already been on the radar of Liverpool in recent months, but Arsenal may face the stiffest challenge from moneybags Malaga in the chase for the Spain international.
Villarreal have slapped a £20m asking price on the head of Cazorla and with their new Sheikh owners, this is a figure that will not put off Malaga as they look to build a squad capable of challenging for a Champions League finish this season.
This is a figure that Arsenal have so far been reluctant to meet, but with the pressure on Wenger to spend and the chance gone to barter Villarreal down because of Malaga’s offer, a quick decision needs to be made.
Meanwhile, some reports from Spain suggest that Arsenal may already be too late, with Malaga and Villarreal representatives already meeting and agreeing terms.
Cazorla has been an integral part of Villarreal’s midfield in recent seasons and he could prove a strong addition to the Arsenal squad.
Arsenal are 9/1 in the Premier League odds to win the title this season as they go in search of a first trophy since lifting the FA Cup in 2005.
The minimum that Arsenal supporters will tolerate is a top-four finish, which can be backed at 4/7.