Chelsea prepare to hijack Arsenal move for Barcelona sensation Sanabria

The London rivals are set to be locked in a battle to capture the 17-year-old Barca B forward, who is expected to leave the Catalan giants after rejecting new terms
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Chelsea are preparing to hijack Arsenal's January move for Barcelona teenager Tonny Sanabria, Goal understands.

The Gunners moved into pole position ahead of Roma to capture the 17-year-old after he rejected an improved contract from the Catalan giants.

It is understood that Arsenal have made Sanabria an offer and the Paraguayan is attracted by Arsene Wenger's trust in youth and the chance to follow in Cesc Fabregas's footsteps.

But Chelsea have now expressed an interest in the Barca B player and could be ready to trump Arsenal's attempt to land the forward.

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Sanabria, who has already been capped by Paraguay at full international level, has asked for a move from Barcelona after growing frustrated by the collection of stars blocking his path to first-team football.

The teenager joined the Catalans' celebrated academy in 2009, aged 13, and has become a regular for the club's B team this season as well as scoring three goals in four matches for the Under-19s side in the Uefa Youth League.

Reports in Spain have said that Sanabria has a buyout clause of an initial £2.5 million in his Barcelona contract, which runs until June 2015.

It is expected that the youngster will switch clubs in the forthcoming window. Arsenal had led the race for the player after submitting an offer considered to be more attractive than that placed on the negotiating table by Serie A high-flyers Roma.

But Chelsea's late interest is a concern for the Gunners, who could be forced to up their offer to beat off competition from their wealthy London rivals.

The Gunners have prised a number of youngster from Camp Nou in recent years, with Fran Merida, Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin all following Fabregas in making the switch to the Emirates Stadium.