Arsenal tried to sign Marseille defender Nicolas N'Koulou in 2010, before eventually swooping for Laurent Koscielny, according to French publication La Provence.

The Cameroon international was heavily linked with a move to north London, but the Premier League club were unable to convince him to leave AS Monaco.

That paved way for Marseille to wade in, and secure N'Koulou's signature the following summer, where he has gone on to excel at Stade Velodrome over the past two seasons.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is a huge admirer of the African enforcer, who is likely to line up against Arsenal in the Champions League tomorrow night.

Wenger has even said that N'Koulou has the potential to become one of the five best central defenders in all of Europe, so impressed has he been with his performances for Marseille in recent years.

The 23-year-old helped the Ligue 1 club to a second-place finish in 2012/13, while his form has also been recognised at international level, with 36 caps and counting for Cameroon.

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