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Arsenal and Manchester United chase Everton midfielder James McCarthy

The Gunners may be looking to sign the Irishman in January.

Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

The Irish Independent is claiming that Arsenal are preparing a bid for James McCarthy.

The report claims that Arsene Wenger has been tracking the Irish midfielder for the last three months, with his scouting team watching him in several Everton matches since October.

Arsena may not be the only side after the midfielder however, with Manchester United and Italian side Inter Milan also being credited with an interest in his services.

The 24-year old had an excellent first season at Everton following his £13m move from Wigan Athletic, quickly becoming a key player in the sides' successful first year under Roberto Martinez. That success has seen his value soar, with reports claiming Everton will ask for as much as £25m for their star player.

Back in September there were reports that McCarthy was unhappy with his current contract, with him reportedly angling for a new deal and the increased wages he felt his performances had deserved.  However, Roberto Martinez downplayed that situation and is likely to do so this time around.

"James already has a very long-term contract," said Martinez. "So I don't know where the talk is coming from. He arrived at the club 13 months ago, his contract is long-term and the ambition of everyone is to see him at Everton for many, many years," he said back in September.

Everton would be reluctant to lose one of their key players half way through the season, but the reported £25m fee may change their thinking given the financial restraints at Goodison Park.

What do you think, should Everton sell McCarthy if a good enough offer comes in? Or is it important that they hold on to their best players? Get your votes in and remember to share your thoughts in the comments below.