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FRANCE`S greatest prospect Phillipe Mexes will join a Champions League side next season, according to his agent.

Oliver Jouanneaux has said that the player wants to move to a progressive club who play in Europe`s top competition, before the 2002 World Cup, something he will not get whilst remaining with Auxerre.

"Phillipe wants to progress and play in the Champions League before the World cup," said  Jouanneaux.  "The possible choice will be dictated according to the progress of the team

"Any team he does join will have to have a large space for progression."

Italian clubs Juventus, Roma, Parma, Bologna, Milan and Internazionale are leading the chase for the 18-year-old defender, but only the teams that qualify for the Champions League will have any chance.

Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, who should all qualify for next season`s Champions League, are continuing to monitor Mexes` progress and have all made their interest known.

Aston Villa have been credited with interest, but it is unlikely they could afford to pursue the deal, or reach Europe`s premier club competition. 

However, Arsenal could be the dark-horses as The Gunners` French connection could play a significant part in persuading Mexes to move to London, but a transfer to Serie A looks the most likely outcome.