Mertesacker rivals Cahill for place at the heart of Arsenal’s defence

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Gary Cahill may be close to sealing a move to Arsenal but the Bolton Wanderers defender faces stiff competition from Per Mertesacker for Arsene Wenger’s attention.

Mertesacker has just the one year remaining on his Werder Bremen contract and has been on Arsenal’s radar for some time.

The German defender has put Arsenal on alert this morning by saying he would welcome a switch to the Premier League and Bremen would welcome any offers as they don’t want to lose him on a free at the end of the season.

Bremen’s sporting director Klaus Aloofs had already opened the door for Mertsacker to seal a potential move and yesterday the player told German paper Bild: “For a national player it is a good thing to get experience playing abroad.”

“I have said that England excites me.”

Arsene Wenger has long been an admirer of the German’s talents and knowing he could seal a cut-price deal for the Bremen star will excite him.

Thomas Vermaelen’s injury in Arsenal’s friendly with Benfica on Saturday has highlighted Arsenal’s need for defenders and while the club have stepped up their chase for Cahill, Mertesacker could also be joining the England international at the Emirates.

With Arsenal needing leaders Mertesacker would plug the gap brilliantly and his experience as captain of Bremen would benefit Arsenal hugely.

The 26-year-old is hitting the prime form of his career yet is young enough to tempt Wenger into opening the chequebook, although with just a year remaining on his contract a fee in the region of £6m should secure his signature.

With the confusion around Cesc Fabregas’ and Samir Nasri’s future still ongoing, Arsenal have drifted out to 10/1 to win the Premier League.

The arrivals of Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have brought a bit of cheer to the Emirates but defenders are needed and the arrival of Mertesacker will change people’s perceptions of Arsenal’s season.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.