Arsene Wenger has made Blackburn defender Christopher Samba his top transfer target.
Wenger is desperate to strengthen his squad after losing Thomas Vermaelen and Sebastien Squillaci to injury.
Arsenal boss Wenger likes Gary Cahill of Bolton, but his club have made it clear they will not sell during this window and that has prompted the Gunners to go for Samba.
Samba, 26, is unsettled at Blackburn after Sam Allardyce was sacked, was stripped of the captaincy and, despite regaining his place, Rovers are struggling to keep him.
Aston Villa are also interested but Arsenal are at the front of the queue and are likely to test Blackburn’s resolve with a bid of around the £6m mark.
Wenger has looked at short-term options such as West Ham’s Matt Upson and have also been offered Bordeaux’s Mikel Ciani but would prefer a longer-term solution, and if they can get Samba at the right price in January then Arsenal will take the plunge.
The Gunners manager wants a big, powerful stopper to partner and compliment the smaller and more mobile Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny.
Cahill, Per Mertesacker of Werder Bremen and Everton’s Phil Jagielka have all been looked at and remain on Arsenal’s list.
Bolton want in excess of £16m for Cahill, and that means Samba is now a strong option if Arsenal can strike a deal with Blackburn who may want closer to £10m.
Blackburn also know Arsenal are desperate, as Vermaelen has undergone surgery after a long spell out with an Achilles problem, Squillaci has a hamstring injury and Johan Djourou is playing despite a longstanding knee problem.