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Arsenal and Man Utd prepare January bids for Italy wideman

Premier League pacesetters Arsenal have joined champions Manchester United in the race for Torino dangerman Alessio Cerci, with both clubs set to bid for the winger in the new year.

The north Londoners – who are 7/2 to convert their two-point top-flight lead into title success in May – have been monitoring the former Roma youth’s impressive form for Il Toro since the start of the campaign.

Eight goals in 12 Serie A matches so far in 2013/14 puts the 26-year-old three strikes behind Fiorentina’s Giuseppe Rossi as the second-highest scorer in the Italian top-flight and matches his tally for the whole of last term.

The 5ft 11in forward has now scored 16 times in his last 36 matches for Torino and was rewarded for his fine displays with a call-up to the Italian senior squad earlier this year by national coach Cesare Prandelli.

Gunners chief Arsene Wenger is facing up to a crisis in the Emirates’ attacking ranks, with Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain no nearer returns from long injury lay-offs and Theo Walcott yet to recover from an abdominal strain.

The professorial 64-year-old is lining up a £16m bid for Cerci in January, but United boss David Moyes has also been tracking the winger – who was signed from Fiorentina in August 2012 – and could try to gazump any winter move by Wenger.

The champions – who are into 9/2 to retain their Premier League title after remedying a poor start to the season – need reinforcements out wide, with Ashley Young and Nani struggling to maintain high levels of performance at Old Trafford.

New recruit Wilfried Zaha – who was brought in by Moyes’ predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson – is clearly unfancied by his new boss and has been repeatedly linked with a loan move away from United, after being completely overlooked for their Premier League matches since joining from Crystal Palace.

The Red Devils were recently linked with Sporting Lisbon starlet Carlos Mane, but the 19-year-old would be one for the future whereas Cerci would be expected to slot straight into the United senior squad, should a move come to fruition.