Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is working hard on a deal to sign experienced cover at centre-back in January, but with options limited is ready to turn his attention to a surprise bid for Saint-Etienne captain Loic Perrin.
The 29-year-old can play either at centre-back or in a holding midfield role, the two positions which the Gunners have been desperately short of depth during the first half of the season.
Wenger would ideally like to follow up interest in Ron Vlaar, Winston Reid or Virgil van Dijk when the transfer window opens later this week, but The Telegraph believe that Arsenal are realistic about the quality of player they can attract in the middle of the campaign and a result deals for all three are highly unlikely.
Is Perin another Squillaci in waiting?
Arsenal fans who've never seen Perin play may fear there's the potential for the Gunners to end up with another Sebastian Squillaci, but the ASSE skipper does have the kind of presence and confidence one of Wenger's most underwhelming signings of all time lacked.
The former French youth international has spent his whole career at Saint-Etienne, primarily as a centre-back that relies on intelligent reading of the game to perform consistently in Ligue 1.
Gunners fans would be underwhelmed
Wenger is ready to use his knowledge of the French game to bring in the dependable Perin because he wants to ease the pressure on Calum Chambers, who due to injuries has played almost every week this season and has at times been found wanting.
Perin can also play at right-back if pushed and would be something of a utility man for Arsenal in the second half of the season.
Arsenal believe Saint-Etienne would reluctantly allow their most loyal player to grab a surprise chance to play in the Premier League in 2015, for a fee of around £6m.
Wenger is acutely aware that he finally needs to sign a long-overdue replacement for Thomas Vermaelen and quickly, don't be surprised if that man is Perin rather than Reid by this time next week.
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