Why Arsenal must steal this Liverpool target to replace potentially United-bound Vermaelen

Arsenal have been linked with a move to sign Cardiff City centre back Steven Caulker – formerly of rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

The Gunners clinched their first silverware in almost nine years back in May, as their 3-2 FA Cup final win over Hull City finally saw Arsene Wenger bag that elusive trophy that fans had been craving for nearly a decade. Yet those same supporters are now looking for more, and a Premier League title challenge is once again expected - especially after the signing of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona.

More attacking firepower is needed after Olivier Giroud's struggles last season, but Wenger must also look to solidify his defence. Mathieu Debuchy will arrive from Newcastle United to replace Bacary Sagna, who joined Manchester City earlier this summer, and another of his defenders could be heading to Manchester as Thomas Vermaelen remains a target for new United boss Louis van Gaal.

Should the Belgian make the switch to Old Trafford, Wenger will be forced to snap up another centre back, as there will be no cover for first choice pairing Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. A few names have been linked with moves to the Emirates Stadium, but the latest one is Cardiff's Caulker.

The 22-year-old England international made his name with Arsenal's fierce North London rivals Tottenham, but was surprisingly sold by Spurs to Cardiff last summer in an £8m move. Since the Bluebirds' relegation, Crystal Palace, Liverpool and QPR are all believed to be interested in handing Caulker an instant return to the Premier League, with the £8m figure once again mooted.

Arsenal are now believed to have joined the race for his signature, almost certainly as a pre-cursor to Vermaelen's United move - and he'd be the perfect candidate to replace the former Ajax man.

Caulker possesses athletic qualities with his strength and above average pace for a centre back, whilst he also has an impressive reading of the game for such a young player. The benefit of a move to Arsenal comes in that with Koscielny and Mertesacker both well established right now, Caulker has the opportunity to continue to learn and develop behind them, growing into the role with a big club rather than being thrown in at the deep end.

Liverpool may be Arsenal's biggest competitors for Caulker, but the opportunity to return to London could be too much to turn down - and if that's the case, Wenger should certainly be looking to swoop for Caulker.

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