Arsenal are in talks to sign Geoffrey Kondogbia, report the website of Italian transfer expert Gianluca di Marzio, with Arsene Wenger said to be in touch personally with the Frenchman.
The news is a blow to both AC Milan and Inter Milan who are battling to sign the midfielder, and there are also repercussions for rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Both Milan clubs are preparing to step up interest in alternative Giannelli Imbula of Marseille, reported by The Mirror to be a top target for Spurs.
The two players are among the top defensive midfielders in France, regulars for sides which finished in third and fourth position in Ligue 1 in 2014/15.
Arsene Wenger has long been cited as an admirer of Kondogbia, who impressed against the Gunners in the Emirates Cup last summer, before helping Monaco beat Arsenal over two legs in the Champions League.
Francis Coquelin's emergence was a bonus last season, but put Kondogbia alongside him in midfield and Arsenal finally will have a platform their attack needs, with two ball-winning midfielder shielding the defence, the side could truly flourish.