Arsene Wenger first attempted to buy the England international before he joined the Red Devils from Fulham and the Gunners are willing to pay up to £12 million this summer
By Paul Clennam
Arsenal are planning a shock summer move for Manchester United defender Chris Smalling, Goal understands.
Arsene Wenger has begun planning for next season, despite not yet signing a new deal that has been agreed since last October, following a meeting with chief executive Ivan Gazidis at the club’s training ground on Monday.
Wenger has been a long-term admirer of Smalling and attempted to buy the England international before he chose to sign for Manchester United from Fulham in January 2010.
Despite suffering a series of injuries that have hampered his progress, Smalling, 24, has made 120 appearances for the Red Devils without ever fully establishing himself as a first-team regular.
Recently, Smalling was disciplined by the club after he was caught partying in Manchester city centre while he was out injured and manager David Moyes, who stepped up his summer rebuilding project with a midweek trip to Portugal, believes that the versatile defender could be surplus to requirements.
Arsenal are willing to step in and pay up to £12 million for Smalling, whose current £52,000-a-week salary would fit comfortably into the Londoners’ rigid wage structure.
The Gunners have identified the England man as a potential replacement for Bacary Sagna, who is out of contract in the summer and is yet to commit his future to the club amid interest from Liverpool, Manchester City, Inter and Monaco.
Club captain Thomas Vermaelen is also set to reassess his future after the World Cup having lost his starting place as a result of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny’s impressive form at the heart of Arsenal’s defence this season.