Arsenal prepared to offload Andre Santos as Wenger steps up search for centre half

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Arsenal are planning to make a late swoop for a central defender as Arsene Wenger bids to shore up his leaky defence, with the club prepared to offload Andre Santos.

The Gunners boss wants to bring in a new man as he considers using Thomas Vermaelen at left-back after Kieran Gibbs suffered a thigh injury against Liverpool on Wednesday night.

Wenger is targeting a permanent signing but is willing to sanction a temporary solution by bringing in a centre-back on loan.

Arsenal are targeting the French market, with one possibility the 22-year-old Marseille defender Nicolas N’Koulou, who has been heavily scouted in the past.

Wenger is reluctant to use Gibbs’ deputy Santos at left-back during the absence of the Englishman, which is expected to be for around three weeks.

Santos’ former club Fenerbahce remain keen on taking the Brazilian back to Turkey and a deal is possible if they can match his wages.

Santos replaced Gibbs during the 2-2 draw against Liverpool and made a rare start in the FA Cup win over Brighton last weekend.

But, as revealed by in November, Arsenal are willing to off-load the 29-year-old after growing fed up with his lack of concentration and focus in both training sessions and matches.

It is understood that versatile skipper Vermaelen could once again be used as a stop-gap option at left-back while Gibbs is on the sidelines.

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