By Wayne Veysey
Arsenal have made a sensational €26 million bid for Marouane Fellaini, Goal can reveal.
The Gunners have activated the release clause in the Everton midfielder's contract and are confident of wrapping up a deal for the 25-year-old in the coming weeks.
Goal understands that Arsenal made the club-record bid on Wednesday, the same day that Roberto Martinez was appointed the new Everton manager.
It is believed that Fellaini's buy-out clause is €26m for a top-four club, and €28m for a club that finishes outside the Champions League places.
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But Arsenal have made the first formal move for the Belgian in what is the first flexing of the London club's new-found muscle in the transfer market.
The Gunners have the best part of €118 millon to spend this summer in what represents the biggest transfer kitty in the club's history.
The stunning swoop for Fellaini was made on the day that Everton chairman Bill Kenwright admitted the Merseysiders were vulnerable to offers for the versatile midfielder.
Kenwright has promised new manager Martinez he will receive 100 per cent of any income from sales after the Spaniard signed a four-year deal to become Moyes' successor.
"He talked about a couple of new signings and he talked about the squad and asked 'Do they need to go?'," said Kenwright of his discussions with the 39-year-old. "I said 'No, they absolutely do not have to go' (although) there is one (Fellaini) that has a get-out, which everyone knows."
Arsenal have already made moves for Swansea City defender and QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar, but their pursuit of Fellaini will send shockwaves through English football.
Arsene Wenger is a long-time admirer of the Belgian, who joined Everton from Standard Liege in 2008 for a club-record €18m.
He is would bring a physical presence to the Arsenal ranks as well as a midfield versatility. Fellaini is on record as saying his favourite position is defensive midfield but he was used predominantly in an attacking role, supporting the main striker, last season.