Arsenal have made an inquiry over the availability of Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu, according to French media.

Mathieu has made 75 appearances for Barca since making a move from Valencia back in 2014 but the 32-year-old is now being linked with a move to the Emirates.

Popular French television channel SFR Sport suggest the Gunners have approached the Catalan giants over Mathieu as Arsene Wenger scours the market for defensive reinforcements.

It’s understood Wenger is looking to bring an experienced centre-back to the Emirates following injuries to Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista in pre-season.

Besiktas are also believed to be in the race for the veteran who was in France’s squad for Euro 2016 before being replaced by Samuel Umtiti after an injury.

Arsenal’s options at centre-back are severely limited following a succession of injuries over the course of pre-season. Per Mertesacker and Gabriel Paulista are definitely out while Laurent Koscielny made a belated return to first-team training at the end of last week and, as a result, it’s likely that he’ll miss the Liverpool game.

That leaves Wenger faced with a straight decision between new signing Rob Holding and Polish youngster Krystian Bielik.

There is very little to separate the two defenders besides the fact that Holding is a more natural central defender but Bielik performed well when asked to deputise there in pre-season.

The preference is to plump for Holding because of the fact that he is stronger and a more dependable defender who should relish the opportunity to shine on the big stage.

Facing one of the league’s most potent attacking sides could prove to be a baptism of fire for Holding but the same is true of Bielik and is the hand that Wenger has been dealt going into the season.


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