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Arsenal scouts keep tabs on young Ligue 1 defender

Despite the constant rumours linking Premier League leaders Arsenal with this striker and that striker, the north Londoners seem to have focused their attentions on improving their impressive backline.

No side has conceded fewer in the top-flight than the Gunners – who are 4/1 third favourites to win the title – so far in this campaign, but Arsene Wenger clearly sees trouble coming down the line in the full-back positions at the Emirates.

Bacary Sagna – who’s rediscovered his best form over the last 18 months and has even filled in at centre-half with aplomb on occasion this term – looks likely to head back to France on a free transfer this summer.

That will leave Wenger with a decision to make over Carl Jenkinson’s readiness to take over as first-choice right-back, but of more immediate concern are issues on the other side of defence that threaten to derail Arsenal’s season.

Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal have each spent time in the treatment room in the last six weeks and although both have returned recently, the former – in particular – cannot be relied upon to stay fit, having missed large chunks of action over the last couple of years.

Arsenal have no other senior left-backs at the club and have been tracking Lille’s Senegal international Pape Souare, who’s starred in his team’s impressive rearguard efforts in Ligue 1.

Of the teams plying their trade in Europe’s top leagues, only La Liga challengers Atletico Madrid, Serie A giants Roma and Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have conceded fewer than the 12 strikes Les Dogues have let in this season.

Despite only breaking into the first team this term following a season on loan at Reims, Souare has played a part in all but one of Lille’s 20 league fixtures so far and chipped in with three winning goals during October and November.

According to reports over the weekend, Arsenal sent a scouting delegation to run the rule over the three-cap Senegalese in Lille’s 2-0 loss away to St Etienne, who have their own promising young defender in French Under-21 star Kurt Zouma.