Real Madrid may offer striker Fernando Morientes to Arsenal as bait to lure Patrick Vieira to The Bernabeu.
Real want to land Vieira in a £30m deal, and hope manager Arsene Wenger's long-time admiration of Morientes, 28, could be a sweetener in any transfer.
Vieira, also 28, is still on holiday and has yet to make any comment on the latest speculation linking him to Real.
It has been reported Vieira's future was discussed by a concerned Arsenal board at their meeting on Thursday.
Morientes was on loan at Monaco last season, scoring goals that knocked Real out of the Champions League and helping his new team reach the final, where they lost to Porto.
Real president Florentino Perez refuses to damp down speculation, saying: "There are no players that are not for sale. The only problem is the money."
Vieira signed a new contract with Arsenal in the summer of 2003 which still has three years to run.
And his agent Steve Kuttner said: "Just because Perez says he admires a player doesn't mean he is going to sign him.
"If Real Madrid want to sign Patrick Vieira they will have to contact Arsenal. "
Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood said: "Real being linked with Patrick has happened so often before and it is starting to become irritating."
Real have long coveted the France midfield star but Hill-Wood said: "We have no intention of selling him."
Perez said: "I must repeat that my policy is to try to sign the best player in the world in every position where we do not already have that."
And he warned Arsenal as he added: "Patrick Vieira is, in my opinion, the best in the world in his position."