Arsene Wenger is considering making a renewed pounds 12 million bid for Manchester United defender Chris Smalling this summer.
Wenger, the Arsenal manager, will step up his long-standing interest in Smalling as he prepares to recruit a centre-half for next season.
Arsenal are aware that the England international will have 12 months left on his Old Trafford contract after this season and it is understood that no talks have been held over an extension. With uncertainty regarding the future of Per Mertesacker, who could be moved on this summer, Smalling is emerging as an attractive target for Wenger as he would also boost Arsenal's quota of home-grown players.
Arsenal were beaten to the pounds 10?million signing of Smalling in January 2010 but Wenger has retained a strong interest in the former Fulham defender and is encouraged by United's delay in negotiating a new deal.
Louis van Gaal, the United manager, has also identified a new centre-half as a priority in the summer and is expected to intensify his attempts to sign Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels. The potential sale of Smalling would accelerate United's attempt to sign Hummels, who will be available for around pounds 35?million.
United are also no nearer to offering Smalling's defensive partner, Phil Jones, a contract extension, despite running the risk of losing him for a reduced fee this summer. Like Smalling, Jones's deal expires at the end of next season and there has been no approach from United to his representatives.
Jones, 23, who was signed from Blackburn Rovers in June 2011 for a fee of around pounds 17 million, also held talks with Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Everton before opting to play for Sir Alex Ferguson. Injuries have damaged his progress but his form over the past few months has impressed Van Gaal.
Seven other high-profile United players will be heading into the last years of their contracts next season, including goalkeeper David de Gea, Robin van Persie and Ashley Young. United are understood to be in no rush to initiate talks, but that approach is a gamble with De Gea because of his growing status across Europe. Real Madrid are a potential destination for the Spaniard and they may wait for the goalkeeper, 24, to run his contract down and take him for nothing next year. Javier Hernandez, Jonny Evans and Rafael da Silva may be allowed to leave in the summer if the club receive acceptable offers. Tom Cleverley's contract expires in June and he will leave, with Everton and Aston Villa - where he has played on loan this season - both interested in signing him as a free agent.
United have rejected loan offers from at least three Championship clubs for Tyler Blackett. Fulham, Watford and Blackburn all wanted to take the defender, 20, before the emergency loan deadline tomorrow but United want Blackett in and around the squad.