Arsenal are facing a huge battle to keep key defender Bacary Sagna beyond the end of the season.

The France international's current deal expires at the end of the season and the Gunners want to open talks over a new contract.

But it is looking increasingly likely the defender will leave the Emirates Stadium next summer.

Sportmail understands the 30-year-old has privately acknowledged that this will be his final season at the club - and is preparing for life away from London.

Given his age this will be Sagna's last major contract and the right-back knows leaving on a free transfer offers him the best prospect of a hefty pay day.

Sagna current earns around £60000-per-week a deal he signed in 2008.

The defender has rejected lucrative overtures from Real Madrid and Manchester City in recent seasons yet Arsenal have not been forthcoming with a new pay deal.

When the club finally begun talks over fresh terms last year Sagna was offered a 12 month extension on the same money.

Sources close to Sagna claim the defender felt disrespected by the offer given he showed loyalty to the club in previous seasons.

The Frenchman looked set to quit the club at the end of last season but was convinced to stay for at least another 12 months.

Sagna who is currently nursing a hamstring injury has been a key performer for Arsene Wenger's side this season prompting the club to renew their attempts to keep him.

But unless Arsenal significantly improve their original offer Sagna will leave the club he joined in 2007.

A number of foreign clubs including Paris St Germain Monaco Galatasary and Fenerbache have already been alerted to Sagna's pending availability and have shown significant interest.

The news of Sagna's likely departure will not come as a surprise to the Arsenal who have begun searching for his replacement.

Chief scout Steve Rowley has instructed the club's global network of scouts to identify targets to replace Sagna as first-choice right-back next season further evidence that his time at the club is drawing to a close.