Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has targeted a last-ditch £8 million move for Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar, with the Express reporting that desperation at the Emirates to land cover in central defence has led to a final trolley dash towards the Midlands.
Vlaar was sensational for Holland at the World Cup and remains close to irreplaceable for Villa, but that hasn't stopped Wenger chancing his arm to complete a genuine coup before the transfer window slams shut at 11pm tonight.
Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton have all been extensively linked with Vlaar this summer, but Arsenal's interest is new and perhaps hints that the Gunners are still frantically searching for new players despite running out of time to get any deal over the line.
Centre-back search an urgent priority
Arsenal fans may be desperate to see a top striker arrive at London Colney tonight, but the need to sign a central defender is equally pressing and rather alarmingly has also been left to the last possible moment.
The Gunners only have Calum Chambers as cover for Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny at centre-back, which despite the £16m man's rise to prominence over the last month leaves Arsenal worryingly short of what's required to compete on two fronts over a gruelling campaign.
Vlaar is in fantastic form and despite Villa's insistence he's not for sale could probably be lured away at a premium price tag, but Arsenal have other irons in the fire if that chase falls short.
Time running out, three options on the table
Wenger wants a centre-half with Premier League experience and after missing out on Kostas Manolas this week has narrowed his search to these shores, with Manchester City starlet Matija Nastasic and West Ham United talisman Winston Reid also viable alternatives.
Nastasic is definitely available thanks to stiff competition for a starting spot at the Etihad, but despite an admission confirming just that from Manuel Pellegrini last week it remains to be seen if City will sell to a direct title rival.
Reid meanwhile is a player Arsenal have been tracking for more than six month, which makes Arsenal's decision to leave their transfer business until the 11th hour look all the more ridiculous.
Before the inquest can begin into Wenger's transfer activity there's still work to be done though, with Vlaar now a genuine target for a squad in desperate need of late reinforcements.
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