Back

Chris Smalling set to join Danny Welbeck and be sold to Arsenal?

As Coral football writers previously reported, Arsenal are rumoured to want to step up their interest to sign Manchester United’s Chris Smalling and join his former teammate Danny Welbeck in north London.

With the Gunners (Premier League third-favourites at 20/1) lacking in defence, and particularly at centre back, with just Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker their senior options.

Teenager Calum Chambers was also brought in from Southampton in the summer, but what Smalling would provide is a wealth of top-flight (two titles) and Champions League (runner-up medal) experience.

The 24-year-old, who can also play at right back, has already gained 12 caps for England and made 124 senior appearances for Man Utd since joining from Fulham in the 2010/11 campaign.

However, Smalling’s time at Old Trafford has been riddled with injury and poor uninspiring performances, including his most recent game in the Manchester derby, where he gained an ill-disciplined sending off.

It has been said that United boss Louis van Gaal could be tempted to allow Smalling to leave in January, but only if the Dutchman can bring in replacements.

The Red Devils have their own defensive dearth, with the likes of Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans all suffering injuries this term. Youngsters Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett have been utilised at the back in their absence, but are not the immediate solution.

Both Arsenal and top four chances Manchester United (odds-on at 4/5) are, therefore, also tracking Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar, who is out of contract in the summer, and could be available for as little as £6m in January.

Virgil van Dijk is also a reported target especially for Arsenal, with the 23-year-old highly impressing for club Celtic. His performances have even led to an international call-up for Gus Hiddink’s Netherlands, although he is yet to earn his first cap.