LONDON • Chelsea have kick- started a frantic scramble for reinforcements in the final week of the summer transfer window by agreeing on a fee of around £35 million (S$61.25 million) with Arsenal for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The forward could potentially be the first of three England internationals destined for Stamford Bridge before the cut-off date tomorrow.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has entered the final 12 months of his contract, was offered improved terms to commit his future to Arsenal but made clear that his preference was to seek a new challenge.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said earlier this month that he wanted the player - who is with the England squad preparing for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia - to stay.
"In the last year, he has made huge progress and personally I want him to stay here for a long time," said the Frenchman. "I'm convinced he will be the English player that everybody will look at in the next two years."
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is hoping a versatile player will challenge Victor Moses at right wing-back and bolster his midfield options for the defence of their Premier League title and their Champions League campaign.
Chelsea's summer transfer spending will go up to more than S$278million if Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain becomes the latest arrival at Stamford Bridge after Alvaro Morata, Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, nicknamed The Ox, could be joined at Stamford Bridge by Leicester's Danny Drinkwater, with talks continuing between the clubs.
The fee for the midfielder, who has three England caps, is likely to top £30 million.
There is interest, too, in Everton's Ross Barkley - the attacking midfielder who is in rehabilitation with a torn hamstring. Talks between the clubs took place after Sunday's Premier League clash.
Given that Barkley is expected to be absent until the new year, there is less urgency with that deal though Chelsea are conscious they will have to deflect interest from Tottenham.
The Blues have pledged to supplement Conte's options after a tense summer behind the scenes, and could also move for Swansea's Spain forward Fernando Llorente as a back-up to the record signing, Alvaro Morata.
Arsenal will at least get a decent fee for Oxlade-Chamberlain, which would not have been the case had the 24-year-old seen out the final year of his contract.
The Gunners find themselves in the same situation with German World Cup winner Mesut Ozil and Chilean star Alexis Sanchez, whose contracts expire at the end of the season.
Sanchez could be moving to Manchester City, who have attempted to break the impasse over the forward by indicating that they would be prepared to include Raheem Sterling in a deal.
Sterling, who joined City in 2015 from Liverpool for £49 million, has been offered to Arsenal in part-exchange for the Chile international after being informed he could leave.
Sanchez has been a target for City throughout the summer, and he has indicated that he would like to work under former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola once more.
Having previously seen a bid of around £50 million for Sanchez turned down with Wenger insistent that he would not be sold, it is believed that City's latest offer includes Sterling and around £20 million on top.
Arsenal have denied receiving any official bid, although it is understood that they have held talks with City in recent days.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE