Mariappa shock target for Arsenal

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is preparing to make an offer for Watford defender Adrian Mariappa as the transfer window reaches its end, The Sun reports. The Gunners will face competition from Newcastle United, who have seen a £2m bid rejected for Mariappa.

Wenger had insisted he would not look to make moves in January, but his side’s poor defensive showing against Aston Villa in the FA Cup yesterday has changed his thoughts. Arsenal have also suffered defensive injuries and the 25 year old has been earmarked as the club’s defensive signing for January. Watford are keen to make £4m from Mariappa, who can play at right back or centre back, but will accept around £3m for the defender.

Gunners scouts watched Mariappa in Friday night’s loss with Tottenham at Vicarage Road and Wenger is ready to make a move quickly to try and seal a deal before Tuesday. Arsenal fans have been critical of centre backs Johann Djourou and Per Mertesacker so far this season and are looking for defensive reinforcements. Mariappa has been an ever-present for the Hornets and has made 27 league starts so far this season.

The Arsenal manager will be delighted with the return of Bacary Sagna in yesterday’s FA Cup fixture, who had been out since October with a broken leg. Gunners defender Andre Santos is supposed to be back in February, as well as Kieran Gibbs, and Carl Jenkinson is back in full training.

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