Barcelona defender Gabriel Milito is looking to leave the Nou Camp after falling out of favour with manager Pep Guardiola reports talkSPORT.
With Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol the preferred centre-back partnership, Milito’s first-team opportunities have been very limited, to the point that he has only started three La Liga matches all season.
Reports in the Spanish media suggest that the Argentine defender will leave in the summer, alerting the attention of Aston Villa, while long-term admirers Arsenal are also tracking the situation.
Villa boss Gerard Houllier is keen to add to his defensive line after the January sale of injury-ravaged defender Curtis Davies, with central defensive options in short-supply.
However, Villa do not want to pay a fee for the 30-year-old, who is contracted to Barcelona until 2012, and will instead attempt to bring Milito to Villa Park on a free transfer as they look to recruit more cautiously after the shock big money move which saw Darren Bent join the Villains in the mid-season window.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is also looking for alternative options to his problem position after the long-term injury to Thomas Vermaelen has left the Gunners thread-bare at the back.
Laurent Koscielny has made the step up successfully, but summer signing Sebastien Squillaci has faced criticism for some poor displays in Arsenal colours during the first half of the season.
Arsenal will be prepared to offer some money in order to bring Milito to the Emirates Stadium reports the Daily Mail, but it is not clear exactly how much.
Regardless, that should put Arsenal in the driving seat as Barcelona look to recoup as much money as possible, which may force the hand of Aston Villa depending on how desperately they want to land Milito.