Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma has told a close friend that he wants to join Arsenal, according to reports.
The Mali international has been Albion’s standout performer so far this season, with Arsenal and Liverpool among the clubs linked with a move for the 24-year-old.
Brighton will not want to lose one of their most important players in the January transfer window, but they may struggle to keep hold of Bissouma beyond this campaign.
The Gunners and Liverpool both expressed an interest in the Brighton man before the current transfer window opened.
But Arsenal now accept that it will be difficult to pull off a deal for Bissouma before the end of the month.
However, Mikel Arteta’s side are hopeful of winning the race for the former Lille midfielder ahead of next season.
The report states that a close friend of Bissouma’s told football.london that the player would choose Arsenal over any other Premier League club.
Bissouma is still friends with Gabriel and Nicolas Pepe, who he played with during his time at Lille.
Arsenal have already made contact with Michael N’Cho, Bissouma’s agent, but their priority this month is to sign a more creative midfielder.
They will be in the market for further reinforcements in the engine room in the summer, with Dani Ceballos’ loan spell set to end and Granit Xhaka facing an uncertain future.
Arsenal do have some concerns over Bissouma’s discipline, with the Brighton midfielder ranking fourth in the list of fouls committed in the Premier League this term.
However, that is unlikely to prevent the Gunners tabling a bid for the Malian this summer.
Arsenal return to Premier League action against Crystal Palace on Thursday night.