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Emiliano Buendia celebrates scoring for Norwich - GETTY IMAGES

Emiliano Buendia celebrates scoring for Norwich – GETTY IMAGES

Aston Villa are rivalling Arsenal in the race for Norwich City playmaker Emiliano Buendia, with the Midlands club understood to be preparing an offer.

Buendia, the Championship player of the season, could ultimately cost up to £40 million this summer after a campaign in which he scored 15 goals and registered 16 assists.

Villa signed Ollie Watkins and Matty Cash from the Championship last summer and are focusing on recruiting players who have already played in English football, with a creative midfielder – or a No 10 – emerging as a priority.

Norwich will resist any offers that do not come near their valuation but are understood to accept that Buendia could move on this summer. The 24 year-old joined the club from Getafe for £1.5m in 2018 and was recently called up to the Argentina squad.

Arsenal are also on the hunt for a creative playmaker but are yet to make a formal approach to Norwich for Buendia. The involvement of Villa, who hope to complete their business early in this window, could force Arsenal into action.

Arsenal’s pursuit of Buendia is likely to depend on the future of Martin Odegaard, who has made a huge impression since joining on loan from Real Madrid in January.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has made no secret of his desire to keep Odegaard at the club, saying this weekend: “We have tried to make everything that we could to get Martin performing for the team, which I think he has done.

“He has adapted really well to our way of playing and to our football club. Hopefully we have given him the hope and the feeling that this could be a good place for him.”

The difficulty will be reaching an agreement with Real, who look set to go through their own rebuilding process this summer. Odegaard will be an expensive addition but Arsenal could try to sign him on another loan.