Toby Alderweireld
Toby Alderweireld Reuters

Arsenal are reportedly set to beat Southampton, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur to the signing of Atletico Madrid defender Toby Alderweireld.

According to the Express, the Gunners are now in pole position in the race to sign the Belgian international.

It is claimed that Arsenal are close to agreeing a deal to sign the Atletico player as Arsene Wenger looks to bolster his defence following the departure of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona earlier in the summer.

The Frenchman only has one backup in Calum Chambers in central defence and is looking at Alderweireld as an able replacement for his compatriot Vermaelen.

The report claims that the Belgian defender was on the verge of joining Southampton on a season-long loan deal, but his head has been turned by Arsenal's interest in bringing him to the Emirates.

The 25-year-old defender, who only joined the Spanish capital club last summer, has already been deemed surplus to requirements and is not part of manager Diego Simeone's plans for the upcoming season.

The defender was also linked with moves to Arsenal's Premier League rivals Liverpool and Tottenham, but it seems like they have cooled their interest following the signings of Dejan Lovren and Federico Fazio respectively.

The Gunners boss will be tempted by Alderweireld's ability to cover at multiple positions in defence and also the fact that he will be available at a relatively reasonable price, as Atletico only paid £6.1m to land him last summer.

Meanwhile, the 64-year-old Frenchman was full of praise for Alexis Sanchez, after he scored the only goal in the 1-0 win over Besiktas that confirmed Arsenal's place in the Champions League group stages for a 17th consecutive season.

"He had a good game, not only on the technical side but on the fighting side. He was mobile, dangerous and has shown as well he has great fighting spirit, qualities that will be very important in the Premier League," Wenger told Arsenal's official site.