Arsene Wenger is considering a surprise move to bring Ron Vlaar to the Emirates Stadium in the January transfer window.
According to the Daily Mail, the Arsenal boss is ready to rekindle his interest in the Dutch international, who he looked at last summer. Manchester United have also been mentioned as a potential destination for the Aston Villa skipper.
A run of injuries to key defensive contributors has left Arsenal fielding left-back Nacho Monreal at centre-back. And the Gunners have suffered as a result, as it was at least part of the reason why they surrendered a 3-0 lead at home to Anderlecht in the Champions League on Tuesday evening.
Following the sale of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona in late August, Arsenal were linked with several defenders as last minute cover. Vlaar, a Manchester United target, was one of the players mentioned.
And with Villa struggling, Wenger may look to pluck the 29-year-old defender from the West Midlands when the window reopens in two months time.
- Liverpool join race for Ron Vlaar
- Man United eye Vlaar as first January signing
- Man United want Bruno Martins Indi
But he could face competition from van Gaal, who worked with Vlaar as Netherlands boss. Vlaar was a key part of his defence as the Dutch reached the semi-finals of the World Cup, only to fall to a Leo Messi inspired Argentina.
Aston Villa will fight
Aston Villa will be desperate to keep hold of the experienced defender but their hand may be forced by his contract situation. Vlaar is out of contract at the end of this season, which means Aston Villa risk losing him for nothing next summer.
If Vlaar indicates that he wants to leave Villa Park, Paul Lambert has just one opportunity in the January transfer window to recoup any money for the defender.
Manchester United have defensive concerns over Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans, and with Marcos Rojo out injured, van Gaal may have to turn to the academy again. Smalling saw red against Manchester City, so will serve a suspension.
As for the Gunners, Laurent Koscielny is currently sidelined with an achilles problem.