Martin Montoya
Martin MontoyaReuters

Premier League leaders Arsenal and Liverpool have reportedly emerged frontrunners in the race for two highly-rated Barcelona youngsters.

The Reds are understood to be edging closer to landing the Catalans' young fullback Martin Montoya, while the Gunners have been touted as favourites to snap up teenage forward Toni Sanabria.

Montoya will become a free agent at the end of the season and, according to the Daily Mirror, Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has now flown to Spain to open talks with the Spaniard's camp, ahead of a potential pre-contract agreement in January.

The 22-year-old is rated highly across Europe but has found first team opportunities hard to come by at the Camp Nou, even when first-choice right-back Dani Alves is unavailable. Hence, the player has so far refused to sign an extension with Barca and is keeping his options open.

Arsenal and Inter Milan have also been linked with Montoya in the recent past but Liverpool now appear to have become favourites to sign the talented youngster, with Ayre understood to be confident of wrapping up the deal soon.

Montoya, who has 22 caps for Spain at U-21 level, was a regular under former coach Tito Vilanova last season, making 24 appearances in all competitions and helping them win the La Liga in convincing fashion.

Meanwhile, though they are set to miss out on Montoya, Arsenal seem to have won the race for yet another promising La Masia product - 17-year-old striker Sanabria. The teenage sensation, who plays for Barcelona B, is already a regular for the Paraguay senior side.

Arsenal and Roma have been hot on his heels of late and the Daily Mail claims the north London side have already held meetings with Sanabria's representatives and are set to trigger the player's £2.5million buyout clause when the transfer window opens in January.

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