Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger sent his top French scout Gilles Grimandi to watch Monaco star Layvin Kurzawa earlier this month and was impressed with what he saw, with Le10 Sport reporting that the Gunners have now declared a strong interest in signing the defender in January.
Kurzawa has attracted serious attention from top Premier League clubs already this season, with both Manchester United and Manchester City monitoring his progress closely following a breakthrough campaign at the very highest level.
United have already held tentative talks with Monaco over a deal for 22-year-old, but Arsenal's arrival on the scene could scupper that deal if Grimandi's report back to Wenger was particularly glowing.
Kurzawa could be latest to join Monaco exodus
Grimandi was at Monaco's clash with Saint-Etienne on November 9th with the specific remit of watching Kurzawa in the flesh, which proved with hindsight to be a wise decision as it's the only time the French international has featured in Ligue 1 since October.
Kurzawa completed the 90 minutes in that 1-1 draw at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, but has been laid low since by a thigh injury. It remains to be seen if that performance was enough to convince Arsenal to make a concrete offer for a player valued at around €15m, but its clear the Gunners definitely need defensive reinforcements as a priority.
United already trying to chase this deal down
Unfortunately for Arsenal they are playing a catch-up with any attempt to sign Kurzawa, with United currently in pole position to open serious negotiations over a player who has also previously been tracked by Bayern Munich.
United have a strong working relationship with the principality's only club, as their audacious deadline-day loan deal for Radamel Falcao proved.
The Red Devils have proved they're not afraid to be aggressive to sign top transfer targets and have the budget to match that ambitious streak, so it will take all Wenger's powers of persuasion to hijack a deal that already seems to be in the works.
Would Kurzawa be an improvement on Monreal?
Gunners fans may question the wisdom of tracking a new left-back rather than a central defender, but with options stretched to the limit across the back four this season regular reserve full-back Nacho Monreal has often been asked to play in an an unfamiliar new role.
Monreal has also struggled to convince when deputising for Kieran Gibbs in his favoured position, which may well be why Wenger's decided to have Kurzawa watched.
Monaco have not received any formal inquiry from the Gunners at this stage, but don't be surprised if that changes over the next few weeks.