Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez Reuters

Arsenal are reportedly leading the race to sign Barcelona's highly rated forward Alexis Sanchez, according to the Express.

Sanchez has been linked with a move away from the Catalan club throughout the summer transfer window, with a number of top clubs including Juventus, Liverpool and Manchester United mentioned as potential destinations. The Serie A club had been a front-runner for his signature till recently.

However, it is now being claimed that Arsenal have made an inquiry and stolen a march on the other clubs. Arsene Wenger has made bolstering his attacking options this summer a top priority after Olivier Giroud struggled to perform at a high level the entire season as the lone striking option.

The Gunners boss who is in Brazil doing television work for the World Cup has been monitoring various forward options. Wenger has supposedly held secret meetings with the Chilean striker's agent with a view to move to the Emirates in the summer.

Sanchez had an excellent season in Barcelona, scoring 19 goals and providing 10 assists in the league, despite playing second fiddle to Camp Nou hero Lionel Messi. It was his best return since arriving in Spain.

Barcelona does not want to let go of such a prized asset, but are only considering it because of his supposed frosty relationship with their irreplaceable Argentinean star.

Meanwhile, Arsenal's new kit sponsors Puma are reportedly urging the Gunners to get on with their pursuit of Mario Balotelli and complete the transfer at the earliest.

The north London side have been linked with a move for the Italian striker over the last few weeks, with Puma having claimed they are willing to help Arsenal finance the deal for Balotelli.

The German sportswear giant, who also have a lucrative sponsorship deal with the AC Milan striker, want the Gunners to complete the transfer before July 10, as they want Balotelli to feature prominently when they launch Arsenal's new kit.

Puma are hoping that he can have the same impact with shirt sales as Arsenal's club-record signing Mesut Ozil when he arrived at the Emirates last season.