Morgan Schneiderlin
Southampton are reportedly ready to break the bank and make Morgan Schneiderlin their highest paid player in order to keep out of the clutches of longtime admirers Arsenal. (Getty Images/Julian Finney)

Southampton are reportedly ready to break the bank and make Morgan Schneiderlin their highest paid player in order to keep out of the clutches of longtime admirers Arsenal.

According to the Mirror, talks have already begun with the midfielder's representatives over a new deal and the Saints hierarchy are willing to go the extra mile in order to retain their midfield talisman. The south coast club are readying a double-your-money deal that will see the Frenchman earn around £60,000-a-week.

Schneiderlin has been a long-term target of Arsene Wenger, who is a big admirer of the French midfielder and tried to sign him last summer, but the move was blocked by Southampton, who had already lost a host of key players to Liverpool and Arsenal.

Apart from the Gunners, their arch rivals Tottenham were also close to signing him last summer but have fallen behind their north London rivals in the race for his signature.

Schneiderlin, who still has two-and-a-half years left on his current deal, is supposedly one of Wenger's top targets ahead of this summer's transfer window. And Ronald Koeman will be reluctant to lose one of his top players.

However, it is believed that the St Mary's outfit will not back down even if he fails to sign a contract and will demand £25m from any club that wants to sign him.

Meanwhile, Arsenal's current holding midfielder Francis Coquelin has admitted that it was 'weird' to play with a mask over his face.

The Gunners star, who broke his nose during Arsenal's clash against Everton had to wear a mask to play against Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday.

"It was a bit weird with the first couple of headers, because you need to get [the feeling of the mask] out of the way," Coquelin told Arsenal's official site.

"After that you can get on with the game - everything is fine. The game was the first time [I'd used the mask] as it just arrived today," the French midfielder added.