Rooney Smalling Manchester United
Wayne Rooney and Chris Smalling celebrate a goal against Bayer Leverkusen in this file photo.Reuters

Arsenal are preparing a shock move for Manchester United defender Chris Smalling in the summer, according to

Arsene Wenger is a keen admirer of the player and has been following him before joining United in 2011. The defender is believed to be surplus to requirements at Old Trafford with David Moyes willing to sell him for a fee in the range of £12m in the summer. Smalling has made 22 appearances this time around but is not high up on Moyes's list for the upcoming season, when the former Everton manager is expected to make a plethora of transfers to help his side get back to winning ways.

The Gunners view the player as a replacement for Bacary Sagna, with the Frenchman yet to sign a new contract with the club, and his present one ending after the end of the current season. Smalling, who can play at both right-back and in the centre of defence, will give the Gunners some much needed cover as they look to establish themselves as title contenders yet again.

Meanwhile, Thomas Vermaelen is also expected to reconsider his career in England after the Belgian was dropped to the bench for a major part of this season, with Wenger preferring the stable duo of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

Smalling will be a good acquisition for Wenger, who is looking to bring in young players to the side who can serve the club for many years to come. Arsenal, who were leading the pack for a major part of this season, have gone off the boil over the past couple of months, losing heavily against the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Everton and dropping points against Stoke City and Swansea.

The results had left them in the fifth position but Everton's loss to Crystal Palace midweek have put them back in the driver's seat for a place in the Champions League.