Young Arsenal forward Chris Willock is close to joining Portuguese champions Benfica on a free transfer, according to reports.

The Sunday Mirror says Willock, 19, is in Lisbon to discuss personal terms and is likely to sign a long-term deal.

The England Under-19 international made two substitute appearances for Arsenal in the EFL Cup last season. He is out of contract at the Emirates Stadium at the end of this month.

Willock is rated amongst the brightest prospects to emerge from Arsenal's academy, with the Gunners hoping to get the young winger to sign a new long-term deal.

However, with the winger's contract expiring on 30 June, the likes of Manchester City, Everton, Celtic and Borussia Dortmund were reported to be interested in signing him as a free agent.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger spoke glowingly of Willock's talent in March last year and predicted a bright future for the young forward.

"Chris is a very gifted player with natural strength and natural talent," Wenger was quoted as saying by the London Evening Standard. "He has what you do not find very easily.

Chris Willock
Chris Willock (left) made two first-team appearances for Arsenal last season Getty Images

"He can have a go at people, can get past people in one on ones. We forget sometimes that the basis of team sport is to first be strong one against one and Chris has that quality.

"I would be very comfortable to play him now but of course there is a lot of competition for places because there are players like [Theo] Walcott, Alexis [Sanchez] and [Danny] Welbeck in front of him at the moment."

Meanwhile, Arsenal have opened contract talks with Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, with the club prepared to pay the England international in excess £100,000 ($128,000) per week in wages to ward off interest from Chelsea and Liverpool.

The Gunners are also hoping to agree new contracts with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, with the duo only having a year left to run on their current deals.