Smalling, Vlaar & Van Dijk – Which defender should Arsenal sign?

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Arsenal are set to step up their search for defensive reinforcements in the coming weeks with Aston Villa star Ron Vlaar, Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk and Manchester United man Chris Smalling all reported to be on their hit list.

With Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny as the club’s only senior centre-back options Nacho Monreal has be filling in at the heart of the defence to varying degrees of success and Arsene Wenger is desperate to bolster his backline.

The Gunners, who are 20/1 to win the title, are currently nine points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea  and can only hope to close that gap if they boost their injury-hit squad in January.

Here Ladbrokes News’ Oliver Yew gives his verdict on Arsenal’s three potential defensive targets…

Chris Smalling

The former Fulham star has come under fire in recent weeks for his poor performances at the heart of Manchester United’s defence but Wenger is a well-known admirer of the 24-year-old.

The Frenchman battled Alex Ferguson all the way for the England international’s signature back in 2010 but was pipped by the Old Trafford outfit to the deal.

While his form has been poor of late, a link up with Wenger and Arsenal’s English contingent could do Smalling the world of good – just ask Danny Welbeck – and his ability to play right-back and centre-back would be a huge bonus to the north London club’s thin squad.

Ron Vlaar

Wenger made tentative enquires to Aston Villa about the Dutch defender’s availability in the closing days of the summer transfer window but Paul Lambert held firm stating the player was not for sale.

Vlaar’s Premeir League experience is a huge bonus and he would fit seamlessly into the Gunners’ defence but one potential stumbling block is Manchester United’s interest.

Louis van Gaal was the defender’s coach at international level and if he came calling in January it would be hard for the 29-year-old to turn down.

Virgil van Dijk

The 23-year-old is another defender who has been of interest to Arsenal in the past and Wenger tested the water with a deadline day bid last summer.

The north Londoners failed to tie up a deal for the Dutchman then but after a string of impressive performances for Celtic, Wenger could be ready to make another move in what is possibly the easiest deal of the three to wrap up.

The former Groningen defender, who is yet to be capped at international level, would be interested in a move to the Emirates Stadium as he looks to play in the Champions League and boost his chances of pulling on the Netherlands jersey.

Which defender would you like to see Arsenal sign in January? Vote now in our latest Ladbrokes News poll!

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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.