Udinese want Arsenal & United target Kovacic. (©GettyImages)

Arsenal and Manchester United face a transfer fight with Udinese over highly-rated playmaker Mateo Kovacic.

The 18-year-old, dubbed ‘the Croatian Messi’ in his homeland, has been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League in the past. Reports in Hungary last week claimed the Gunners were taking a keen interest in the €18 million-rated player.

September speculation in Jutarnji List also claimed that both Manchester United and Manchester City were tracking the player – along with Alen Halilovic – ahead of a potential move in January.

Serie ‘A’ outfit Udinese have now also taken an interest, according to TMW and CalcioNews24, with Croatia’s imminent acceptance into the European Union a surprising factor in the club’s interest.

The news will come as a potential wake-up call for interested Premier League parties, as Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger considers whether to raid Dinamo Zagreb once again.

Wenger signed Eduardo da Silva from the same club back in 2007, and also has a track record of getting the best out of young players at the Emirates Stadium.

Were Kovacic to move to north London, he’d be joining a plethora of young talent at Arsenal, and fits the bill of ‘the professor’.

For Manchester United, a move for Kovacic would again shown manager Sir Alex Ferguson building the future, a point proved by the signing of Nick Powell in the summer transfer window.

Having also drawn comparisons to Luka Modric in the past, it's easy to see why the Red Devils would want to bring the player to Old Trafford, having failed in their pursuit of the more recognised name this summer.

Whether the club's American owners would be willing to spend such a fee on an unproven talent is up for debate, and it will be up to the Manchester United manager to decide if Kovacic is a gamble worth taking.

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