Manchester United's chances of landing Mesut Ozil on a free transfer hang in the balance after an apparent breakthrough in contract talks with Arsenal.
The playmaker is in the final six months of his current deal in north London and would be able to leave for nothing next summer if the Gunners cannot tie him down to fresh terms.
United had reportedly been hoping to snap Ozil up for free when his contract expires next June but, according to the Sun, their chances of doing so have slimmed after the paper alleged Ozil's camp was "very, very close" to a breakthrough in negotiations with Arsenal.
The Germany international's team has been locked in talks with Arsenal's representatives for over a year but, with Ozil supposedly wanting a huge wage hike to the tune of £300,000-a-week, discussions had not budged for some time.
Fresh hope has been given to Arsene Wenger, however, that Ozil may now stay after club insiders told the Sun that he could be on the verge of extending his stay at the Emirates.
A hefty signing-on fee and increase to his salary - neither of which have been divulged - could swing things Arsenal's way and prevent United or other interested clubs from prising Ozil away.
Mesut Ozil dropping a 10/10 on his Manchester United audition today 🔥🔥🔥— Harsha (@VintageMUFC) December 2, 2017
If a deal cannot be struck by the end of the month, Arsenal will apparently look to cut their losses and offer the 28-year-old out with the hope of scooping up some cash for his signature.
The Gunners would hope to earn between £15m and £20m if they hawked Ozil out in the January window, but even then Arsenal would refuse to sell him to a Premier League rival in the form of United.
Instead, the current FA Cup holders would look to sell Ozil abroad if possible. That move in itself could backfire though, with foreign parties able to agree pre-contract agreements with Ozil and his agent over making a free transfer to them in June 2018.