Arsenal are eyeing Everton defender John Stones ahead of a possible transfer offer, reports suggest.
This is according to The Metro, who claim that Gunners boss Arsene Wenger - who is aware of the player's progress having had him watched during his time at Barnsley - has told scouts to run the rule over the player until the summer before the club could potentially move for his services.
19-year-old Stones joined Everton from the Championship strugglers in January 2013 and has gradually forged a hugely promising reputation as one of England's finest young defensive properties.
While he did not play at all in the Premier League in the direct aftermath of his switch from Oakwell, Stones has featured in the top-flight on 16 occasions this season as the Toffees have gone from strength-to-strength under the leadership of Roberto Martinez.
Indeed, Arsenal - whose 2013/14 campaign was looking promising on several levels until a recent poor spell of domestic form - have witnessed the player's talents first-hand, with Stones having lined-up for Everton during their highly-impressive 3-0 win over Wenger's side at Goodison Park last Sunday.
Arsenal's apparent interest in strengthening their backline is no real surprise, particularly with the future of French stalwart Bacary Sagna still unresolved heading into the final few fixtures of the season.
If Sagna - who has been with Arsenal since 2007 - does indeed reject the offer of a new contract and depart the Emirates Stadium on a free transfer this summer, then Stones could be an exciting long-term replacement.
While he obviously does not yet possess the same sort of experience as Sagna, the England U21 international is extremely versatile and can be deployed either at right-back or in the centre of defence.