Arsenal are set to turn their attentions towards Cardiff City man Steven Caulker, as the Gunners seek out extra competition in the centre of defence.
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Arsene Wenger seems determined to bring a centre-back to Arsenal this summer, after a season in which the Gunners endured a lack of competitive cover for first choice pairing Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.
With Belgian international Thomas Vermaelen having struggled to impact on the squad and linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium and initial target Ashley Williams looking likely to stay at Swansea, Wenger has set his sights on Cardiff City man Steven Caulker, according to the Daily Mail.
Caulker was one of few impressive performers in a difficult season for the club from Wales’ capital city, as the Bluebirds were relegated straight back to the Championship amidst controversy surrounding the tumultuous boardroom antics of Vincent Tan.
Having already been capped for England and with Premiership appearances for Cardiff, Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur, Caulker represents an intriguing mixture of potential and experience for Wenger as he looks to plot a title challenge next season.
With Caulker having spent the season at Cardiff, it makes a move for the powerful defender far more likely than it ever would have been had Caulker remained with Arsenal’s bitter North London rivals Tottenham.
A product of the Tottenham youth set-up, Caulker enjoyed successful loan spells with Yeovil Town, Bristol City and Swansea before beginning to establish himself in the Spurs line-up under Andre Villas-Boas, yet he was surprisingly allowed to leave for Cardiff last summer.
Caulker joined the Bluebirds for £8 million, whilst he has a release clause in his contract of an unspecified amount – it is certain, however, that Cardiff would be looking for at least a small profit on their initial investment as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer builds a team for the Championship season.
Another potential stumbling block that the prospective transfer faces is that Caulker, having endured a number of seasons out on loan and struggling to break into the Spurs side, would want to be guaranteed regular football, something that Arsenal are unlikely to be able to provide considering the solidity and consistency of their existing partnership.
This may open the door for other potential Premier League suitors, with Liverpool, Southampton and former clubs Swansea and Spurs all namechecked by the article.
Liverpool certainly require defensive bodies after their porous back line arguably cost them the Premier League title, whilst Caulker may face the same uncertainties surrounding minutes on the pitch were he to return to White Hart Lane.
Southampton have money to spend but are yet to appoint the successor to Mauricio Pochettino, but Cardiff would be unlikely to entertain the idea of selling Caulker to their bitter South Wales rivals Swansea.
All of this uncertainty leaves the possibility of a move to Arsenal very much on the table, with a number of obstacles in the way of any potential move that Caulker may be making in this transfer window.