Arsenal are ready to hit Chelsea with a £25million bid for defender David Luiz when next month’s transfer window opens.
The Brazilian defender is hoping to step up his recovery from a knee injury this week and get back into the team by early January after six weeks out.
His comeback will put Arsenal on alert for a stunning move to try to prise the centre half across London to one of his club’s main rivals at a crucial stage of the season.
Luiz is focused on getting fit amid rumours of a long term fall out with Chelsea boss Antonio Conte over a tactical row.
But SunSport can reveal that frosty relations between the two have thawed out – even if only temporarily – with Conte desperate to have Luiz back in contention for a first team return.
Luiz has not played since a Champions League victory over minnows FC Qarabag in November but is targeting Chelsea’s FA Cup third round clash at Norwich on January 6 for his return.
Conte claims the injury is ‘serious’ but is also in constant touch with club medics to try to work out a full timetable of recovery for the centre-half.
Luiz has seen his place taken by Andreas Christensen while sidelined and Chelsea are ready to kick off contract talks with the emerging Danish defender in the new year.
Christensen is under contract until 2020 but the club are set to reward their blossoming youngster with a pay rise to keep him happy and out of the reach of rival clubs.
Luiz, 30, is likely to resist any move to Arsenal as he wants to prove himself at Chelsea – at least until the summer when he will have more time to consider his options.
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Chelsea have come under fire for selling players to other Premier League clubs in recent seasons.
In the summer, midfielder Nemanja Matic was allowed to leave for Manchester United in a £40million deal and were heavily criticised by the fans.
In 2015 Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich waved his normal resistance to such deals and sold keeper Petr Cech to Arsenal out of respect for the Czech’s loyal service previously.
Luiz is hoping to start light training in the next seven days – with light running on the agenda to test inflammation in his knee after aggravating an old problem.