Arsenal have joined Manchester United and Chelsea in the race to sign Raphael Varane in January, but it remains to be seen whether they'll be willing to meet the Real Madrid defender's £30 million valuation.
According to the Daily Star, Arsene Wenger has identified the France international as the man to strengthen his Gunners backline after making a central defensive acquisition his number one priority in the New Year.
Varane has been heavily linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu in recent weeks after falling out of first-team favour with current Los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti.
However, it's Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal that have been most prominently mentioned as suitors of the talented 21-year-old, with Stamford Bridge or Old Trafford - not the Emirates - mooted as potential destinations.
Varane has struggled to dislodge the first-choice pairing of Sergio Ramos and Pepe at Real Madrid this term, and recently admitted that he was frustrated by his lack of regular action, prompting rumours of a possible departure in 2015.
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"I get more minutes [with France] and have more responsibility in the team," he said. "The aim is to reach the same level of involvement in the club."
Arsenal could certainly offer Varane the chance of regular action with international team-mate Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker struggling for fitness and form this term.
Wenger's failure to sign a replacement for former captain Thomas Vermaelen in the summer has left the Gunners short on options, forcing the Frenchman to deploy Spanish left-back Nacho Monreal at centre-back on a number of occasions.
Manchester United have had extensive injury problems of their own, and that's why Van Gaal has been linked with a move for Varane as he looks to shore up his own defence in the mid-season window.
The Red Devils are much more likely to pay the type of fee that is going to be needed to convince Real Madrid to cash-in, while Chelsea would be foolish to splash such a significant fee when they have plenty of cover in that area of their squad.
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