Arsenal are in the running for Viktor Gyokeres and have jumped ahead of their Premier League rivals in the race to sign the free-scoring Sporting forward.

Sporting signed Gyokeres for a fee of just €20million (£17m) from Coventry City last summer and the 25-year-old has been a rip-roaring success in Portugal, leading the scoring charts with 22 goals in 24 league games.

Gyokeres also sits second on the list of the top assist makers in Primeira Liga, with only Benfica’s Rafa Silva (11) ahead of the Sweden international (10).

According to Portuguese outlet A Bola, Gyokeres’ sensational numbers have put him firmly on the radar of Europe’s heavyweight teams, with Premier League leaders Arsenal at the front of the English pack for the Swede’s signature.

The Gunners are likely to face fierce competition from Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, plus the top teams in Spain and Italy, should they step up their pursuit for the former Brighton and Swansea man at the end of the season.

However, the report states that Sporting are determined to keep hold of Gyokeres and will only allow a sale if his eye-watering €100million (£86m) release clause is paid in full – which would represent a club record transfer deal.

It’s claimed Sporting are even prepared to increase Gyokeres’ salary and release clause to give themselves ‘greater protection’ ahead of a potential bidding war in the summer transfer window.

In April, Gyokeres’ agents will head for Portugal, where they are expected to discuss the player’s situation with the Sporting. The Primeira Liga leaders could look to raise the forward’s release clause to €120m (£103m) to put themselves in the strongest possible position.

Champions League qualification could prove key for Sporting in keeping hold of Gyokeres, with only the Portuguese champions guaranteed direct passage into Europe’s elite competition this season.

Sporting currently sit top of the Portuguese top flight, one point better off than second-placed Benfica, with a game in hand over the reigning champions.

Back in January, widespread reports indicated that Chelsea had lodged a £73m bid for Gyokeres, which was rejected out of hand by the green and whites.

Quizzed on Chelsea’s interest at the time, Gyokeres told Sport TV: ‘I don’t think anything about it.

‘I’m here and we have important games to play, I’m focused on that.

‘There’s a lot of talk on social media and elsewhere, but I’m not focused on that I don’t think about anything else. I’m here right now. I’m 100 per cent focused on this and the club.’

Meanwhile, Sporting head coach Ruben Amorim insisted he was ‘not worried’ as Chelsea’s offer was ‘not enough’ to prise Gyokeres away from Lisbon.

‘I don’t know, I didn’t even ask [director of football Hugo] Viana,’ Amorim said this week,’ Amorim told reporters.

‘Obviously, I was informed of the news. As soon as they said it was €85m, I thought: “That’s not enough”. It’s only €100m [£86m]. I’m not worried.’