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Arsenal And Newcastle United Fight For Per Ciljan Skjelbred

Arsenal and Newcastle United are reportedly battling it out for the signature of Rosenborg's powerful midfielder Per Ciljan Skjelbred.

The 21-year-old has been the subject of much interest from Europe's elite clubs, and it is thought that the Gunners and the Magpies are leading the race.

The Trondheim-born player almost signed for Liverpool's academy recently but turned it down at the last minute, preferring instead to stay in Norway, where he signed for Norwegian giants Rosenborg.

He was also the subject of interest from Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill, who has reportedly been urged by striker John Carew to sign the young and upcoming star.

The Norway international played a vital part in his country's unexpected 1-0 win over Germany recently, and a big future looks to be on the cards.

There is, however, a possibility that Skjelbred will remain in Norway's top flight for one or two more years before being snapped up by a bigger club. But, when it happens, England will almost certainly be his preferred, and most likely, destination.

Arsenal are renowned for the way they are able to pick up the world's unknown talents and turn them into stars and already have Norwegian superstar-in-waiting Havard Nordtveit in their ranks. The 18-year-old defender signed from Haugesund for £2 million in 2007.

Nick Turner, Goal.com