Arsenal planning surprise raid to sign another Manchester United star

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is said to have enquired over the possibility of signing Manchester United defender Chris Smalling this month.

The England international has been more of a substitute in the early part of the season, but an injury to Eric Bailly has enabled him to compete for a regular starting role.

According to The Gambling Times, the north Londoners have turned their attention towards the ex-Fulham man with former target Jonny Evans apparently leaning towards a move to Manchester City from West Bromwich Albion.

The Gunners have found themselves short due to injuries on several occasions this term, and Smalling is seen as a potential candidate, who can slot into the central defensive positions, though United are not desperate to offload his services.

Eric Bailly is due to return from his long-term injury next month, and there remains a possibility of the Englishman leaving with Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof and Daley Blind also capable of partnering Phil Jones at the heart of the backline.

Smalling, who previously snubbed the Gunners for United in 2010, has 18 months left on his existing Old Trafford deal, which may be prolonged by a further year via an extension clause in his contract.

Arsene Wenger’s side went through a lean period at the turn of the year as they missed the services of Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal in defence, and this had a visible impact in the defeat at Bournemouth.

The pair returned in fine fashion by scoring in the 4-1 triumph over Crystal Palace last week, but Monreal remains doubtful for the League Cup semi-final second leg versus Chelsea with a minor knock.

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