By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes

Arsenal have told Palermo this week they are willing to pay up to £20million for the Argentina strike sensation Paulo Dybala, nearly £10m below the Italian club’s asking price.

US Citta di Palermo v Empoli FC - Serie A

Football Insider sources have learned that an Arsenal delegation met Palermo chiefs in Italy to discuss a deal for the 21-year-old forward.

The Serie A club’s president Maurizio Zamparini  values the team’s in-form spearhead at €40m (£28.5m) and has claimed he has what it takes to become the new Lionel Messi.

But the Gunners group, led by contract negotiator Richard Law, told Palermo they rate Dybala at just below the £20m mark and would not pay more for the player.

It was the first meeting between the two clubs as Palermo listen to offers for a player who is out of contract in the summer of 2016 and will be sold rather than leave for nothing next year. Dybala’s representatives have told the Serie A club he will not sign a contract extension.

Football Insider reported last week that Arsenal and Chelsea had both expressed an interest in the forward as they rival Juventus in the race to sign him this summer. The west London club watched Dybala in action against Serie A leaders Juve two weekends ago in a match won 1-0 by the Bianconeri.

Arsenal are also in the market for a new forward and have identified the Argentine as a potential summer target as they step up plans to reinforce their front line.

Dybala has shot to prominence with his displays for 11th-placed Palermo this season, scoring 12 Serie A goals as well as providing seven assists in the competition.

Chelsea are in the market for a mobile young forward who can take some off the goalscoring burden off the shoulders of first-choice front man Diego Costa.

Arsenal will listen to offers for Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell, on loan at Inter Milan and Villarreal respectively, in the summer and are looking at adding a third orthodox front man to rival Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck.

Dybala has only 15 months remaining on his contract and Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has admitted he is likely to be sold this summer.

“For me, Dybala is the Messi of the future,” Zamparini told an Italian radio station. “I value him at €40m but we will have to see what happens at the end of the season. There has been a lot of talk about Dybala, but his agent is just doing his work. I have a good relationship with him.”