EXCLUSIVE | By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes

Arsenal have met the representatives of Petr Cech as they bid to beat Manchester United to the signing of the Chelsea goalkeeper, Football Insider sources understand.

The Gunners have indicated in discussions with Cech’s entourage in recent days they are willing to hand the goalkeeper a three-year contract to lure him this summer.

As revealed by Football Insider, Arsenal have been given permission by Chelsea to discuss terms with Petr Cech after opening talks with the Premier League champions about signing the goalkeeper in a rare deal between the London rivals.

Arsenal are working on a deal to land Cech amid growing competition from United, who have identified the 33-year-old as a possible replacement for David de Gea, who is expected to move to Real Madrid this summer.

The Gunners are favourites to sign Cech but United’s interest could turn his head even though it is understood that the Czech international is settled in London with his family and keen to remain in the capital.

There is a clear sense that Chelsea will allow their long-serving goalkeeper to decide his future out of respect for his considerable achievements during his 11 years at Stamford Bridge, in which he has won every major honour.

Jose Mourinho admitted that he is powerless to stand in the way of the Czech international moving to north London, with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich believed to have told the goalkeeper he can choose his destination.

Cech has 12 months remaining on his contract but has spent most of the season on the sidelines after losing his No1 status to Thibaut Courtois.

Chelsea have drawn up a shortlist of goalkeepers to take on the No2 role next season, which it is understood is headed by on-loan Fulham goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

Arsenal are a tempting option for Cech, who is settled in London and wants to join a club who can compete for trophies.

Arsene Wenger is keen to pull off one of the headline signings of the summer amid doubts over the future of Wojciech Szczesny and current first choice David Ospina’s long-term ability to be the No1.

As revealed by Football Insider, Szczesny wants to quit Emirates Stadium in search of regular first-team football after losing his Premier League spot to Ospina at the turn of the year.