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Report: Brighton reject Arsenal's £60M bid for Chelsea-linked Caicedo

Sebastian Frej/MB Media / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Chelsea face stiff competition from Arsenal in their pursuit of midfielder Moises Caicedo, but even the Gunners are having a hard time convincing Brighton & Hove Albion to part with the Ecuador international.

Arsenal unsuccessfully tried to hijack the Blues' move for Caicedo with an offer worth £60 million, reports The Athletic's David Ornstein and James McNicholas.

Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi on Friday revealed details of his discussions earlier this week with Caicedo, insisting that the player remains "focused" on his duties with the Seagulls despite growing uncertainty over his future.

"I hope he can stay with us until the end of the season because, in my opinion, it's the best solution for him, for us," De Zerbi told reporters on Friday.

"I spoke with him Wednesday, and I told him my opinion," he added. "I think it's always difficult to change inside of a season. … For our way, it's important for him to stay another four months with us."

It's unclear if the north London outfit will make another bid after Brighton rejected its lucrative offer. Meanwhile, De Zerbi's comments appear to confirm reports that Brighton have repeatedly declared that Caicedo won't be sold during the January transfer window.

Arsenal's offer comes days after Chelsea reportedly approached Brighton with a verbal proposal worth £55 million, which the south-coast club rejected.

Caicedo emerged as a target for the Gunners after Mikel Arteta's Premier League-leading squad was left short-handed in midfield following an injury to Mohamed Elneny.

Caicedo has a goal and an assist in 18 Premier League appearances for Brighton this season. The 21-year-old also played in all three of Ecuador's World Cup games in Qatar.

Arsenal have spent nearly £50 million on signings this month, adding winger Leandro Trossard - Caicedo's former Brighton teammate - and defender Jakub Kiwior from Spezia.

Arsenal are five points clear of reigning champions Manchester City atop the Premier League. The two teams will meet for the first time this season Friday in the FA Cup before playing again in the Premier League on Feb. 15.

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