Gunners targeting January move for Everton's James McCarthy
Arsenal have spent the last three months trailing James McCarthy as Arsene Wenger contemplates a move for the Everton midfielder.
The Gunners boss has delegated responsibility to his scouting team to forensically examine McCarthy's performances, sending different members of his scouting staff to Everton's matches since the start of October.
They had also planned to watch McCarthy play for Ireland against Scotland in the Euro 2016 qualifier in November before altering their plans when he was ruled out of that game with a hamstring injury.
They have watched him again since then and will now decide whether to approach the Merseysiders with a bid in this transfer window.
After joining Everton from Wigan Athletic in a £13million move last season, McCarthy has seen his value soar to the point where Everton are likely to demand a £25million fee for his services, a figure Arsenal would be reluctant to pay.
However, with Inter Milan and Manchester United also tentatively linked to the 24-year-old, Everton know they are in a sellers' market.
For his part, McCarthy - on comparatively low wages in Premier League terms - is likely to negotiate a new contract if no move transpires.
The highest earners at Everton can command £70,000-a-week, considerably more than what McCarthy earns yet when speculation increased last September that he was angling for a new deal, Roberto Martinez downplayed that situation.
"James already has a very long-term contract," said Martinez. "So I don't know where the talk is coming from.
"He arrived at the club 13 months ago, his contract is long-term and the ambition of everyone is to see him at Everton for many, many years."
Meanwhile, Newcastle's Papiss Cisse has apologised to Everton's Seamus Coleman after striking the Irish international with his elbow in last Sunday's game. After receiving a three-game ban from the FA, Cisse issued a damage limitation statement, insisting his actions were out of character.
"I'm sorry for doing something like this," said the Senegalese international. "This is not my style and not something I do."