The lure of Champions League football has put Arsenal ahead of north London rivals Tottenham in the race for Blackburn’s Chris Samba.
Arsene Wenger has been outspoken in his need for another defender, with Samba, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka all names to have been linked with a move to the Emirates in the close season.
However, with defending set plays known to be an Achilles heel of Arsenal, the aerial and physical dominance of Samba may make him the most suitable signing of the trio.
Blackburn are reluctant to part with their skipper, who only signed a new five-year deal at Ewood Park earlier in the season, although their financial situation has been well documented in recent weeks.
And with Samba desperate to prove himself at the highest level, then they may be powerless to prevent one of their leading assets leaving, especially if Arsenal meet their asking price.
Samba said:” I don’t know what is happening with Arsenal because I am not dealing with it and it’s not my problem.
“At the minute I am still at Blackburn but it would be a big lie if I told you ‘everything is good and I don’t want to play in the Champions League’.”
But if Arsenal do not agree to Blackburn’s demands, rivals Tottenham may step in as they look to assemble a squad to challenge for the top four this season.
Tottenham are weighing up a £15m offer, which is also likely to be more than Arsenal are willing to pay.
It is 11/4 in the Premier League betting that Tottenham finish among the Champions League places.
However, the loss of Samba could have a big impact on Blackburn, who have already sold fellow central defender Phil Jones to Manchester United this summer.
If this duo are not replaced, then 3/1 could be a big price that Blackburn are relegated to the Championship this season.