Nottingham Forest rejected a £5m bid for rookie defender Lascelles in January
NOTTINGHAM Forest are understood to have turned down a £5m bid from Arsenal for rookie defender Jamaal Lascelles.
The Gunners are believed to have offered a £2m down payment for the highly-rated centre-half, with an additional £3m in future add-ons, on deadline day in January.
Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool have also been monitoring the progress of the 17-year-old.
But the Reds are confident that Lascelles will be ready to make the step up into the City Ground first team next season.
As reported in the Post last month, Forest have tied Lascelles to a new contract, which does not expire until 2013.
And they are determined to hang on to the player, who is rapidly developing into one of their most prized assets.
Central defenders Wes Morgan and Luke Chambers have been two of the most consistent performers in Billy Davies' side this season, as they forged a second push for a play-off place.
But Lascelles has already been training with the first team squad and is likely to be given his opportunity to push for a starting place next season.
The Derby-born player's advisors are not believed to be keen to rush him through the City Ground exit door either.
With Forest's track record of nurturing young talent in the past – with the likes of Michael Dawson, Andy Reid and Jermaine Jenas all having learned their trade on the banks of the River Trent, before moving on to the top-flight – they feel a season or two with Forest could provide a solid launch-pad for his career.
From Forest's point of view, while they do not want to lose the player, they also know that, if he does make an impact next season, his potential price tag will only increase.
Arsenal were understood to regard Lascelles as a player who could challenge for a place in the Gunners' first team sooner, rather than later.
Manager Arsene Wenger has a habit of blooding his young players in the Carling Cup, as was the case when Jermaine Pennant moved to north London from Notts County for £1.6m in 1999, when aged only 15.
But they, and the other Premier League clubs monitoring his situation, are likely to have to remain patient.
EVERTON, Wigan and Stoke are leading the race to sign midfielder Guy Moussi.
The Frenchman is out of contract in the summer and, while he has said that he would like to remain with Forest, there are now a clutch of clubs hoping to tempt him into a move to the top-flight instead.