Arsenal may look to Serie A in an effort to keep their Premier League title hopes on track it's emerged, after reports surfaced linking the Gunners with Andrea Ranocchia.
The Inter centre-back would be an astute purchase for Arsene Wenger's side at the halfway point of the campaign, adding a fine defensive presence and at an affordable price, too.
According to the Daily Star's Gary Jones, Arsenal are eyeing up the 25-year-old alongside the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs, each of whom could provide stiff competition should Wenger make a serious move for his target.
Ranocchia has started in 13 of his club's 16 Serie A outings this season, but despite being one of his side's more consistent defenders, Walter Mazzarri doesn't seem completely convinced by the central figure.
Earlier on this year, ESPN's James Horncastle projected that Mazzarri may have in fact sold the player over the summer:
@ImZy_99 Ranocchia's got 'market' as they say. Mazzarri wants to run the rule over him in pre-season, but sale not to be ruled out— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) July 12, 2013
If that were to be the case, it could most certainly prove to be the Premier League's benefit after Ranocchia showed good signs of maturing in recent seasons and now finds himself fighting for a place in Cesare Prandelli's Italian squad in time for the World Cup.
Ranocchia has seen his first-team opportunities at the San Siro drop under manager Walter Mazzarri, with the club now thought to be ready to cash in on the Italian international in the upcoming winter transfer window.
As things stand, Ranocchia has 18 months left on his contract so is entering a crossroads of his San Siro tenure where a departure may be wise unless an extension looks likely, which it may not in this case.
This season, Arsenal's rise to the top of the Premier League has not-so coincidentally coincided with the best form that Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker have managed to form as a centre-back partnership.
Although Thomas Vermaelen may be seen as ample cover, the Belgian's form has dropped significantly in the last season or two and further recruitment may be a savvy decision if the North Londoners are to truly develop a squad of title-worthy depth.
Ranocchia's timing is suitable in that his talents aren't quite strong enough to warrant pressure for a place in the starting XI, and yet he could put pressure on those ahead of him with time.
It only helps matters that his club aren't champing at the bit to keep hold of the player, which one can only imagine will lead to a smaller fee.
To make matters better, Ranocchia is one of few viable targets who wouldn't be cup-tied due to Inter not qualifying for Europe in the last campaign. It's a familiar story at the moment that many players are in search of first-team football ahead of the World Cup, but have already featured in European competition and so lose value as a mid-season acquisition.
Such is not the case for Inter's Ranocchia, who has a multitude of reasons as to why he'd be a smart signing for Wenger this winter.