Arsenal are said to be determined to land Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes and are preparing a raid for the German international at the end of the season.
German newspaper SportBild (h/t Liam Spence of the Daily Express) claim the Gunners want to tempt the World Cup winner to the Emirates Stadium in the summer. He will have one year left on his current deal in Gelsenkirchen. Arsenal will then be allowed to trigger the player's release clause, which is thought to be worth £9 million.
The player is also attracting interest from Liverpool as manager Jurgen Klopp rebuilds the Anfield giants, and Howedes has admitted a transfer to the Premier League motivates him.
"A move abroad excites me. England would for sure be an interesting destination," he said, per Spence. "Currently I am with Schalke. There are no deals sorted. But of course, for a footballer there are some clubs that are more interesting than others."
Arsenal already have a significant German contingent in north London with Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil present, and their senior positions at the club could help attract the 27-year-old.
Howedes is a versatile entity, able to play in all four positions in the back line, and has the experience to hit the ground running in coach Arsene Wenger's side with little fuss or transition.
Reuters (h/t the Guardian) reported last summer that offers were made for the defender from Arsenal and other teams, but Schalke sports director Horst Heldt confirmed that Howedes rejected them: "Benedikt Howedes will remain at Schalke. There were two offers from abroad. We are happy he decided to stay here.”
The player continues to be a vital cog in the Schalke machine this term, featuring 15 times in the Bundesliga and UEFA Europa League, according to WhoScored.com.
Here is a video showing exactly why Wenger wants the German in his side:
The Arsenal boss is hoping to make his first capture of the January transfer window in due course as he looks to add Basel midfielder Mohamed Elneny.
Telegraph Sport quoted Wenger speaking about the prospective deal, and the Frenchman appeared optimistic about a completion date.
"It's complicated a little bit, but we are working hard on it and hope in the next two or three days we get to the end of it," Wenger said. "I don't rule out anybody else but he [Elneny] will be at least one of the signings that some into the area we are short at the moment."
Arsenal currently lead the Premier League by two points, and their goals-conceded column has remained very healthy this season. The team have let in only 18 goals during the league campaign and are on course for the title.
However, Howedes would be a magnificent addition to the back line at the end of the season, offering both leadership and economic value. He is coming into the prime of his career, and the £9 million valuation makes him value for money.
Mertesacker could need replacing at the end of the season, as the centre-back continues to struggle with pace merchants in England.
Howedes would add strength and knowledge to the starting XI, and would provide an auxiliary function to the squad when Wenger needs to shuffle the pack due to injury or rotation.
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