Arsenal forward Theo Walcott has been a subject of interest of Premier League clubs Everton and Southampton and the two clubs have reportedly held high-level talks with the Gunners over the possibility of signing him in the January transfer window.
The England international's contract at the Emirates will run down after the end of the next season. He has seen his first team opportunities limited as he has failed to start in the Premier League this season.
According to the BBC, the 28-year-old is attracting interest from top clubs who are looking at the option of signing him on loan. Arsenal are not willing to let Walcott leave on a temporary basis and will only let him on a permanent transfer.
Walcott came up through the ranks of Southampton's academy before breaking into their first team in the 2005/06 season. In January 2006, Arsenal agreed to sign the attacker and a return to St Mary's Stadium has appealed to the player.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino has already confirmed the Saints' interest in signing Walcott in the mid-season transfer window.
"I have been talking about [Walcott]. He is a good player, but I don't know with the negotiations, with the market. I imagine that this type of player would have a lot of possibility. For us it's not easy," Pellegrino explained.
"Hopefully we can bring somebody that can help us be stronger. This is our target now. We know the market is difficult, but we are working on that."
Everton are also looking to provide competition for Southampton in signing the forward. The Merseyside club's ambition to challenge the clubs at the top of the table like Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Manchester City could tempt him to join the Toffees.
Sam Allardyce is an admirer of Walcott and included him in the England squad during his brief spell with the Three Lions. The Englishman can play as a centre-forward or on the wings and is currently on a £110,000-a-week fee ($149,011) at Arsenal.
The Goodison Park outfit are ready to meet his wage demands and are also willing to meet Arsenal's £20m price tag. The BBC claims Everton's position in the Premier League table (ninth) when compared to that of Southampton (17<sup>th) could also be a deciding factor.
With Everton ready to meet Arsenal's asking price and Walcott's wage demands, they are likely to pip Southampton in signing Walcott.
Meanwhile, Arsenal also want to assess Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck's fitness levels. The France international has been out of action with a hamstring injury, while the ex-Manchester United man has a series of injury issues since joining the Gunners.
If Giroud and the England international show positive signs with regard to their fitness, Walcott will then be allowed to leave in January.