Arsenal

Gunners Step Up Interest In German

Arsene Wenger has turned his attentions to German defender Per Mertesacker. The Gunners are already close to securing a £8.5m deal for L’Orient’s Laurent Koseielny but want another centre half after seeing their initial approach for Phil Jagielka firmly rebuffed by Everton.

Despite having an incomplete first name, Mertesacker has been lined up as a potential partner for Thomas Vermaelen as Wenger moves to replace the departing Gallas and Silvestre. The 25-year-old is said to be worth £10m but you can expect his price tag to rise substantially if the Germans can progress all the way to the World Cup Final in South Africa.

The 1.98m giant is the rock at the height of Joachin Low’s defence and his steadfastness has helped them through to the Quarter Finals – although admittedly England were not much of an impediment. Mertesacker has earned 66 caps since being picked by Jurgen Klinsmann back in 2004 and earned many plaudits for being one the continent’s best tacklers during both World Cup 2006 and Euro 2008.

He began his career with Hannover 96 before making a €5m switch to Werder Bremen in the aftermath of the World Cup on German soil four years ago. His extensive international experience and strength in the air have now brought him to the attention of Wenger who looks as if he might have a fight on his hands after Mertesacker recently pledged to remain loyal to his club and stay put in the Bundesliga.

But, with his back four looking rather thin on the ground, Wenger looks set to break with the habit of a lifetime and spend big money on this one.

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