Reyes - The speculation gathers pace....

Last updated : 27 January 2004 By Chris Parry

MADRID, Spain (AP) - Arsenal is close to signing Spanish international Jose Antonio Reyes from Sevilla, news reports said Tuesday.

Sevilla will announce the transfer of the 20-year-old forward to the Premier League club at a press conference at its Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Tuesday, news agency Europa Press said.

Arsenal was to pay 35 million euros (US$43.8 million) for Reyes, who was regarded as one of Spain's top prospects, sports daily Marca reported.

Reyes was expected to fly to London later Tuesday to join the English club, the newspaper said.

The paper reported Sevilla's players joking Tuesday with Reyes about his transfer to the Premier League leader after a training session in preparation for its Copa del Rey quarterfinal with Atletico de Madrid the following day.

Arsenal's interest in Reyes goes back some time, with Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido reportedly rejecting a 15 million euro (US$18.8 million) bid from the English club last summer.

Reyes, who is under contract with Sevilla until 2010, made his full international debut for Spain as a substitute in a friendly with Portugal in September. He has made two further appearances.

Since making his Spanish league debut for the club three years ago, Reyes has scored 21 goals in the first division.