Report: Arsenal eye £12m bid for Chris Smalling after five-year pursuit

Arsenal are reportedly looking to make a third bid to sign centre back Chris Smalling this summer.

According to the Daily Mirror, Arsenal are eyeing a £12m bid to sign Chris Smalling from Manchester United - five years after the Gunners initially tried to sign him, they claim.

Arsenal signed Brazilian Gabriel Paulista from Villarreal in January, and even though he has impressed early on in his Gunners career, it seems that manager Arsene Wenger still wants to strengthen his defence.

Having seen the likes of Mathieu Debuchy and Nacho Monreal fill in at centre back this season, it's no surprise to see Wenger searching for more depth in the heart of his defence this summer.

Yet, it may be a surprise to some Arsenal fans to see that it's Manchester United's Chris Smalling being touted for a move to the Emirates Stadium by the Daily Mirror.

Smalling, 25, has recently hit a rich vein of form for United, but is out of contract in just a year - and the Mirror believe that Arsenal will look to capitalise on that with a £12m bid this summer.

They also note that Arsenal were not only interested in signing him last summer, but also when Smalling was playing for Fulham in 2010 - but he chose Old Trafford over the Emirates Stadium.

The Greenwich-born centre back could be open to a move back to the capital, but the speculation will no doubt cast more doubt over the long-term future of Per Mertesacker in North London, who has lost his spot in the first team to new signing Gabriel.

Signing another defender could be the end of the experienced German international at Arsenal, who has been disappointing in patches this season.

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