Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has picked Real Madrid veteran Alvaro Arbeloa as the man who can help fill the void if Thomas Vermaelen finally agrees a move to bitter rivals Manchester United.
That is according to AS, who believe that Arbeloa's versatility and Premier League experience dating back to three seasons with Liverpool means he can fit the bill as a perfect squad option at the Emirates next term.
Wenger planning another Madrid raid
The Gunners have wasted no time in strengthening this summer, with defensive additions in Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers every bit as important as the blockbuster £32m deal for Chilean superstar Alexis Sanchez.
Regardless of continued questions surrounding Vermaelen's future though Arsenal still need another signing capable of playing centre-back, something Arbeloa can definitely do with competence at the highest level.
The 31-year-old still has two years left on his current contract at the Bernabeu but the emergence of Dani Carvajal has restricted his first-team opportunities, which could prompt a return to England if Arsenal make their interest concrete with a formal offer.
Vermaelen's future remains uncertain
Whether Wenger does indeed approach Madrid with a bid for Arbeloa largely depends on a final decision over Vermaelen, who has been consistently linked with both Barcelona and United over the last two months.
Vermaelen has struggled to show anywhere near his best form at the Emirates over the last 18 months, with recurring injury problems compounding a loss of form which has helped Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker's partnership blossom.
The Belgian international will hold crunch talks to decide if he has a future at Arsenal in the very near future, when that showdown takes place the transfer plans of United, Barca and the Gunners will become clear.
Quality in reserve
Vermaelen definitely looks a player in need of a fresh challenge and won't be happy with another season as capable back-up in North London, but perhaps Arbeloa will.
The ex-Liverpool man can play anywhere across the back four and would expect to feature more than the 18 times he did for Real Madrid last term if he signed for Arsenal, a move AS believe he is more than favourable towards.
Wenger has already shown with his swift transfer business that the emphasis is on squad depth and competition for places in all positions, boxes Arbeloa definitely ticks as Arsenal press on with a building a squad capable of challenging on all fronts this season.
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