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Arsenal line up AC Milan full-back to replace wantaway Frenchman

Arsenal have stepped up their efforts to mitigate for the expected loss of right-back Bacary Sagna, who is out of contract next summer and could leave north London earlier.

The Premier League pacesetters – who are joint-second favourites for the title at 7/2 odds – are resigned to losing the 30-year-old, who has been a mainstay in the Arsenal first-team since signing from Auxerre in 2007.

Sagna is thought to favour a move back to his native France, with PSG and Monaco set to battle it out for the 37-cap Les Bleus international.

Fellow Arsenal right-back Carl Jenkinson has struggled for form when deputising this season and the 21-year-old hasn’t started since the Gunners’ woeful Capital One Cup loss at home to Chelsea last month.

Manager Arsene Wenger has made replacing Sagna – who has also filled in at centre-half at times this term – a high priority and has renewed his interest in AC Milan’s Italy international Ignazio Abate.

Arsenal have been linked with Abate for some time now and with rumours emanating out of Milan that the Rossoneri are lining-up Newcastle’s former Inter defender Davide Santon to replace the 27-year-old, a deal looks very much on the cards.

Abate – who’s father Beniamino is a goalkeeping coach at the Giuseppe Meazza and used to play for Inter and Udinese – has become a mainstay in the Azzurri squad since making his Italy debut in 2011, amassing 14 caps since.

Like Sagna, Abate is famed for his darting runs down the right flank and has contributed 10 key passes in Serie A so far in 2013/14, which compares well with the seven chances the Arsenal man has created in the Premier League this season.

He is also out of contract at the end of the season and could become a Gunner as early as January, if Rossoneri coach Massimiliano Allegri can bring in Santon as a replacement.