Manchester United's Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling have both been placed on Arsene Wenger's summer transfer shortlist, according to The Mail.
Arsenal are pressing ahead with plans to sign a new centre-back despite sealing the signature of Gabriel in the January transfer window. Several names have been mentioned in the above report, but the two that stick out belong to their Premier League rivals.
Evans and Smalling could well be part of a significant cull at Old Trafford this summer with Louis van Gaal continuing to revolutionise the Red Devils. Neither have impressed this season and Van Gaal's deep pockets will allow him to exchange them for world-class alternatives.
The same was true last summer when Van Gaal placed Danny Welbeck on the transfer list to make room for Radamel Falcao. Arsenal took full advantage, signing him for £16 million and they are now intending to do the same with one of the two failing centre-backs.
Dynamo Kiev centre-back Aleksandar Dragovic is also on the list with Arsenal scouts set to present at their Europa League clash against Everton on Thursday. However, both Smalling and Evans come with homegrown status and Premier League experience.
One in, one out
The news is grim reading for Per Mertesacker who has already faced questions about his status as a first-choice centre-back. Gabriel looks capable of replacing Mertesacker in the starting XI while either Evans or Smalling would surely command a place on the bench ahead of the German.
Now 30-years-old, it is a sign that Wenger is willing to exclude Mertesacker from his Arsenal squad. There is no suggestion that a new centre-back could replace Mertesacker in the above article, however, but he is the most likely candidate ahead of Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Calum Chambers.
The big question is of course whether Van Gaal would sell to a direct Premier League rival. He has already taken a fair amount of stick for letting Welbeck leave for the Emirates and may have learnt from his mistake.
With Evans and Smalling performing badly, they are unlikely to command much interest outside of England and are also unlikely to accept a transfer to any club outside the top six. So, like Welbeck, United may have no other option but to sell to the Gunners.
Would Arsenal fans want to see Per Mertesacker replaced with one of the two Manchester United men? Would Manchester United fans be happy to see either of them leave for Arsenal? Give us your thoughts in the comments box below!
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