Arsenal are mulling over the idea of making Marseille centre-back Nicolas N'Koulou their first summer signing in a €12m deal if captain Thomas Vermaelen decides to move on in search of regular first-team football elsewhere, according to talkSPORT.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is a long-term admirer of the Cameroon international and has watched his progress closely in Ligue 1, with the Marseille star firmly established as one of the French top flight's star defenders.
The 24-year-old is approaching the final two years of his current Marseille deal and Arsenal are now considering whether to try and take advantage of discontent at L'OM with a concrete offer before the World Cup.
Ligue 1 rivals Monaco and Napoli have also been persistently linked with a move for the versatile defender, particularly with Marseille gearing up for a change of regime under the mercurial Marcelo Bielsa.
Marseille may think the time is right to cash-in on a player they signed for just €3.5m in 2011, although from an Arsenal point of view much depends on the long-term future of skipper Vermaelen.
The Belgian stalwart is widely expected to ask for a transfer this summer after failing to dislodge either Per Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny from the first team this season, although the defender's performances at this summer's World Cup could largely dictate how many clubs from across the continent are interested.
If Vermaelen does decide to go elsewhere Wenger will be forced into the transfer market for a defender capable of providing trustworthy cover across the course of a long campaign, a remit N'Koulou could well meet as he enters peak years.