Gunners in for Zokora

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Arsenal may have stolen a march on Manchester United in their pursuit of St Etienne's £10 million-rated midfielder Didier Zokora.

Following interest from The Red Devils, the 24-year-old's agent, Franck Belhassen, has now acknowledged the coveting glances of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.

Wenger has deployed former Gunner Gilles Grimandi to run the rule over the Ivorian international and has received a number of glowing reports.

And despite Sir Alex Ferguson previously registering an interest in the player, Arsenal would now appear favourites for the player who is set to leave Ligue 1 next summer.

"Arsenal are watching Didier very closely and I know Wenger likes him a lot," Belhassen told the News of the World.

"They will be in for him when St Etienne decide to sell.

"It will definitely be next summer as we have an agreement until then."

Zokora is not surprisingly flattered by interest from the Premiership heavyweights but will bide his time before deciding on his next employers.

"It is well known United have also expressed their desire to take Didier - to have that choice makes us very happy," continued Belhassen.

"You can never rule anything out and St Etienne's president told me everyone is for sale at the right price."

Belhassen also confirmed an earlier Chelsea enquiry but believes it is now a straight race between United and Arsenal for the player's signature.

"Chelsea contacted me in the summer when they were having difficulties with signing Michael Essien from Lyon and I know they're still interested in Didier," added the agent.

"But I know it will be a decision between Arsenal and United."