Bengaluru, May 17: Managerless Arsenal have already begun talks to sign Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri, according to reports in England.
Raul Sanllehi, the Gunners' head of football operations, is keen on the Ivory Coast international and tried but failed to sign him at Barcelona last summer.
Nice rejected a £35million offer and Sanllehi was disappointed with his Barcelona chiefs that they were not willing to increase the bid.
Both Manchester clubs, Liverpool, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have extensively scouted the 26-year-old in the past two seasons and Arsenal are looking to make the first offer.
It now appears that Arsenal have stolen a march on their rivals by opening talks with the player who is believed to have a £35m release fee that kicks in over the coming weeks.
Seri started his career in his homeland with ASEC Mimosas before moving to Portuguese side Pacos de Ferreira, following a stint with Porto's B team.
Nice snapped him up in 2015 for around £750,000, with Seri appearing in almost every Ligue 1 match since.
Arsenal's move signifies a shift in approach to recruitment, before Arsene Wenger has even returned from France to clear out his office on Thursday.
Departing boss Wenger previously had total control of the club's recruitment process.
However, Sanllehi and Sven Mislintat, the head of recruitment, look to have a different and aggressive approach in the transfer market.
Gunners chief exec Ivan Gazidis ideally wants to appoint a coach who will continue the Wenger's hands-on approach to training, but have less say in player recruitment, more of a training-ground manager who keeps a low profile,
Ex-Gunners captain Mikel Arteta is favourite for the job, with Carlo Ancelotti, Max Allegri and Luis Enrique the other frontrunners.
However, it is unlikely that the likes of Ancelotti, Allegri and Enrique will be happy with the kind of freedom the transfer committee gets.
Seri has made 16 appearances for the Ivory Coast national team and is an all-action midfielder player.
He is pretty much similar to Chelsea star Ngolo Kante putting a lot of defensive and offensive work.
Arsenal have plenty of creativity in their midfield but need more solidity to cover their porous defence and Seri is a perfect candidate for that.