Arsene Wenger is preparing to make a $15 million bid for Manchester United defender Chris Smalling.
Smalling, Phil Jones and Ashley Young are set to be offered new deals at Old Trafford as all three are scheduled to be out of contract at the end of next season.
But Arsenal boss Wenger wants to take advantage of Smalling’s situation by making a summer bid for the versatile defender. Wenger has been a long-term admirer of the England international and needs a reliable central defender for his porous defense. He is in fine form, even scoring United’s fourth in their 4-2 beating of Manchester City on Sunday.
Wenger tried to sign Smalling from Fulham but was beaten by United, who got him for around $13 million five years ago. Arsenal enquired about Smalling and Jones last summer, got refused, but are ready for another attempt.
Smalling is playing better under new manager Louis van Gaal and United are keen to tie him down to a new deal.
But if he will not re-sign, then United may decide to sell rather than let him walk away for free next year.
Smalling says United have Arsenal and Chelsea in their sights in the Premier League race following their resounding victory over champions City.
United are third, eight points behind leaders Chelsea, who they face on Saturday, and play second placed Arsenal in their penultimate league game. Chelsea face Arsenal away next week, so United overhauling the Blues is not impossible although unlikely.
Smalling has scored the same number of Premier League goals this season as former teammate Danny Welbeck at Arsenal, with four.
Several other Red Devils players are heading into the last year of their contracts next season, including goalkeeper David De Gea and striker Robin van Persie.
Striker Javier Hernandez – currently on a season’s loan at Real Madrid – and defender Jonny Evans are two others who are likely to be released for the right price.