Liverpool are set to steal a march on Premier League rivals Chelsea after agreeing a £40m deal with Arsenal to sign England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The transfer is expected to be rubber-stamped on Thursday as top-flight clubs prepare for a frantic day of business prior to the 11pm deadline of a record-breaking window, with a number of deals unresolved.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has made 198 appearances for Arsenal since joining the Gunners from Southampton in August 2011, rejected a move to Chelsea on Tuesday after a fee had been agreed.
The 24-year-old would be the Reds’ fourth major signing of the summer after recruiting winger Mohamed Salah from Roma, Hull full-back Andrew Robertson and striker Dominic Solanke from Chelsea.
During a window where the previous record outlay of £1.17bn has been surpassed, Liverpool have also concluded a club-record £48m deal to sign midfielder Naby Keita from RB Leipzig, although the 22-year-old will not join the Anfield ranks until next season.
The signing of Oxlade-Chamberlain may not signal the end of Jurgen Klopp’s spending spree as the Merseysiders could return with a fresh offer for Monaco winger Thomas Lemar, while Southampton centre-half Virgil van Dijk is believed to remain a target.
Lemar is also thought to be on Barcelona’s radar, although Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho remains their preferred choice despite the Anfield club rejecting two offers, the most recent in the region of £114m.
Arsenal are set to face a battle to prevent Oxlade-Chamberlain being the sole player to leave Emirates Stadium as Manchester City appear intent on signing Alexis Sanchez despite having a £50m bid rejected on Tuesday.
There also remains uncertainty over the future of centre-half Shkodran Mustafi following interest from Serie A outfit Inter Milan, while full-back Kieran Gibbs joined Tony Pulis’s West Brom for £7m on Wednesday.
Chelsea’s failure to snare Oxlade-Chamberlain may result in the Blues reinforcing their efforts to lure Everton contract rebel Ross Barkley to Stamford Bridge. The Toffees have already rejected a £25m bid for Barkley from Chelsea.
Everton’s original asking price for Barkley, who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, was £50m, although Chelsea would hope to pay substantially less given the 23-year-old is in the final year of his contract.
Defending champions Chelsea could also opt to return with a third bid for Leicester and England midfielder Danny Drinkwater, who yesterday asked to leave the King Power Stadium amid interest from Antonio Conte’s side.
The west London club are also believed to be close to a deal for Swansea striker Fernando Llorente, with the Swans close to re-signing ex-forward Wilfried Bony from City.