Arsenal will add a potential Ballon d’Or winner to their title-chasing squad if they can sign top target Mykhailo Mudryk, according to Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi.

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Arsenal are hoping to seal a January deal for winger Mudryk, who De Zerbi knows well from their time together at Shakhtar Donetsk.

De Zerbi, whose side host Arsenal on Saturday, said: ‘Mudryk is a fantastic player. I like him, because I like all my ex-players. But Brighton can’t buy him. Arsenal, I don’t know. I think Mudryk can win the Ballon d’Or in the future. I know the value of Mudryk.’

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Arsenal have had one offer for Mudryk, 21, of around £57million rejected by Shakhtar.

The Ukrainians want in excess of £80m for Mudryk, who was named player of the year by Shakhtar fans for the second year running on Friday. Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin confirmed talks are ongoing with the Gunners and they are open to selling.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was less keen to discuss his club’s pursuit of the player, insisting: ‘I cannot talk about players not at Arsenal.’

Arteta is keen to bolster his attacking department next month, especially with striker Gabriel Jesus returning from the World Cup with a knee injury which required surgery.

The Gunners will head into the new year top of the Premier League, regardless of what happens in the final round of fixtures this year, having established a five-point lead ahead of their game at Brighton.

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Arteta’s former club, Manchester City, are Arsenal’s closest rivals, but he is equally wary of newly-rich Newcastle.

Eddie Howe’s side are ahead of schedule in their bid to become serious contenders, sitting third and seven points off top spot, having played a game more.

Areta, whose team face Newcastle in their first fixture of 2023 on Tuesday, said: ‘Obviously, it (Newcastle) is a huge club, one with such history in this country.

‘Now they have a real set-up, with a coach that has brought something different to the club, an atmosphere they have created of belief and big ambitions. And obviously they have owners who are able to build the team quickly and compete with the best teams. They are a threat.’

Meanwhile, Arsenal have activated their option to extend William Saliba’s contract by a further year until 2024 while they continue talks on a long-term extension for the France defender.

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