Arsenal are reportedly plotting an audacious move for Manchester City defender Matija Nastasic should Thomas Vermaelen leave in the ongoing transfer window.
The Daily Mail's report states that the 21-year-old was watched by the Gunners' scouts when he was in Fiorentina's books. But the Citizens swooped for the centre-back, who arrived at the Etihad in 2012 with the reputation of being one of the talented defenders in Europe.
Vermaelen has been linked with a move to fellow Premier League giants Manchester United as manager Louis van Gaal is said to be impressed by the 28-year-old's versatility. Arsenal had reportedly rebuffed the Red Devils' £6m bid and are said to be holding out for £12m.
The former Ajax star played second fiddle to Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny for the Gunners last season and was believed to be considering his future. Last week, Arsene Wenger too expressed uncertainty over the Belgium international's future at the Emirates but stressed that he will bring in a replacement in the event of his departure.
"I cannot guarantee that [he will stay at the club] but should he go, I will bring another centre back in for sure," the 64-year-old told Arsenal's official website.
The report also claims that the north London club will revive their interest in Nastasic once again to fill the void. He endured a disappointing spell for Manuel Pellegrini's side filled with injuries that restricted him to just 11 league starts.
The Serbian international is also believed to be on the radar of Italian giants Inter Milan and AS Roma. The centre-back is valued at £16m and still has three years pending on his current contract.
Nastasic's future at the Etihad too could be under question with reports suggesting that City are nearing a £32m deal for FC Porto's Eliaquim Mangala.
The French international's arrival will further jeopardise the former Partizan starlet's chances of gaining a regular first-team berth in the upcoming campaign.
Pellegrini is allowed to enter a 21-man squad for the Champions League next season as punishment for breaching Uefa's financial fair play regulations.
The sanction restricts the former Real Madrid boss to choose only 16 overseas players for the Champions League fixtures, which means he must drop one foreign player if Mangala becomes a part of his roster.