Southampton are in pole position to sign Theo Walcott on loan from Arsenal, according to reports in Italy.

A number of Serie A sides have been linked with a move for the England international in recent weeks but it seems AC Milan have withdrawn from the race to land Walcott.

Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino has already confirmed that he wants to sign Walcott from Arsenal and according to an exclusive report from Italian news outlet TMW, the 17th-placed Premier League side are leading the chase.

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The report claims that Arsenal are keen only to let go of Walcott on loan at this stage if there is an obligation to purchase at the end of the season for a sum of €20 million. This comes as something of a peculiar claim, given that Gunners boss Arsene Wenger recently expressed his desire to retain Walcott’s services.

TMW report that no negotiations have taken place yet between Serie A clubs and Arsenal, which leads them to report their understanding that Walcott is primed for a move back to St Mary’s this month.

Roma and Inter Milan are stated to be keen on the 28-year-old, with Newcastle United also in the chasing pack.