Premier League outfit Arsenal have stepped up their interest in Swansea City defender Ashley Williams after their club captain Thomas Vermaelen picked up an injury which could see him miss the start of the new season.

The Belgium defender - who will now miss most of pre-season due to a back injury - was Arsenal's third choice centre-back for the last two months of the season because of the partnership developed between Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.

The Swansea defender has been on Arsene Wenger's radar since January and the Arsenal boss did enquire about the Welshman back in the January transfer window but the Welsh club rejected a formal approach from the Gunners.

Arsenal were ready to make a formal bid in the summer, but the £10million asking price put on the defender's head deterred Wenger from making a bid for the 28-year-old.

Despite the asking price put on Williams' head, it is now believed Wenger will renew his interest in the defender because of the injury picked up by his captain Vermaelen.

Williams has made comments in the past that he would love to apply his trade in the top competitions of world football and a move to Arsenal would seriously interest the Welshman.

Vermaelen's injury has now left Arsenal with just two recognised centre-backs after they released Sebastian Squillaci and loaned out Johan Djourou.

It is believed that Wenger wants four recognised centre-backs in his team for the new season so Williams is seen as a key target.

Swansea manager Michael Laudrop is against selling his captain, but he is willing to listen to offers if Arsenal meet their asking £10million price. 


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