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Exclusive: Arsenal Join Chelsea In Race To Land Prolific £25m-Rated South American Striker In January

Gunners are desperate to add more attacking firepower to their forward line in the second half of the campaign. 

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Premier League giants Arsenal have now joined arch-rivals Chelsea in the race to sign prolific FC Porto front man Jackson Martinez when the winter transfer window opens again for business in the new year.

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The in-demand Colombia international has been closely monitored by a whole host of big-name clubs from throughout the Continent of late after making a blistering start to his career with the Portuguese champions.

In fact, it was even reported recently that Martinez’s agent flew to London to enter into face-to-face talks with the Uefa Europa League holders over a possible big-money move for his client to Stamford Bridge next month, with the Blues known to be desperate to sign a new striker in January.

And Martinez’s name has been on the lips of the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool ever since the South American moved to the Dragao from Mexican outfit Jaguares de Chiapas in July 2012 on a four-year deal for a transfer fee of just $11 million.

In his debut campaign in Oporto, Martinez managed to find the back of the net on an impressive 34 occasions in total in just 43 matches in all competitions for his new team, including an equally eye-catching 26 strikes in only 30 league outings.

Meanwhile so far in this season, the 27-year-old has been in equally devastating form in front of goal, with Martinez registering 15 goals and two assists in total in 24 matches in total for both club and country, including 11 strikes and one assist in his 13 league contests to date.

It is that kind of brilliant attacking play, though, that now means that Martinez is being scouted by many of Europe’s heavyweight clubs ahead of the opening of next month’s transfer window.

And the player’s recent comments regarding his future career options will only have served to further increase the speculation regarding Martinez’s future at Porto, even though the Colombian is currently contracted to the Portuguese giants until June 30 2016.

“It is they who have to decide what they want to do with me,” Martinez told Portuguese sports daily Record. “If it is to continue here, or send it to a transfer depends very much on them.

“If something happens, and more than thinking in economic conditions, I think there are opportunities that can be taken.

“But I continue to think of the club and now I leave my future in the hands of God.

“I will only give my maximum and not look to hasten things, because they will happen in due time.

“For now I do not feel the need to talk with FC Porto. I am calm without denying or closing, or trading any possibility that some part of the club is interested in keeping me.”

And it is those words that are now believed to have convinced Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger to also enter the running for Martinez in the winter window as the Frenchman continues his own long-running search for more striking options up front at the Emirates in the second half of this campaign and beyond.

The Gunners are currently joint top of the Premier League, level on points with rivals Liverpool after the first 17 games of the campaign, as they enter a busy Christmas period and new year.

And with the club expecting to be challenging on multiple fronts in the second half of the season, both at home and abroad, it is understood that Wenger has already drawn up a short list of possible attackers to bring to the capital in January.

The veteran coach is said to be deeply concerned at present that his one and only true centre forward, Olivier Giroud, could soon be suffering from burn out if the in-form France international continue to be asked to lead the lead on his own going forward.

Other striker’s names on the Arsenal wish list are understood to include the likes of Real Madrid marksman Karim Benzema, Liverpool forward Luis Suarez and Atletico de Madrid’s Diego Costa.

But Wenger feels that his best hopes of luring a top-quality attacker top north London next month now rest on him being able to persuade Porto to part company with their star man in January, with the Gunners’ hopes of being successful in that regard having increased dramatically following the Portuguese’s recent failure to qualify for the knockout round of Europe’s premier club competition, the Uefa Champions League.

All of which means that Porto president Pinto Da Costa is said to be keen to offload Martinez at the turn of the year in order to make up for the lost Champions League revenues that his club have now missed out on.

However, with the Porto supremo famed for driving a notoriously hard bargain come transfer negotiation time, Arsenal know that they will not be able to get their first-choice striking target on the cheap though, with Martinez expected to cost the club at least £25m to purchase.

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