Brighton have have joined Aston Villa in the race to sign the Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez, who is understood not to be in the travelling party to face Fulham on Saturday.
Villa have been favourites to land Martínez if he was made available by Arsenal, who are seeking £20m for the Argentinian. They bid £15m this week but Brighton have exceeded their offer and Martínez will not feature at Craven Cottage in the season opener, with transfer talks ongoing.
It means Bernd Leno will start the campaign in goal for Arsenal, who have been unwilling to guarantee Martínez the playing time he seeks. Martínez was a revelation when he deputised for the injured Leno at the back end of last season, helping Arsenal to victory in the FA Cup final, and wants No 1 status after a decade as a deputy or on loan. But Mikel Arteta has been unwilling to guarantee that to either of his keepers and Martínez, 28 and desperate for regular football, now looks certain to leave.
Martínez has been in talks with Arsenal over a new contract but the parties are some way apart, with Villa and Brighton both ready to dwarf the salary on offer. Should Arsenal accept an offer, Martínez would be likely to depart next week.