Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger interested in Timo Baumgarti. Getty

Arsenal have stepped up their interest in VfB Stuttgart defender Timo Baumgartl, according to German publication Bild.

The Gunners are in the market for a defender and are running through every option for a player who can provide some cover, as the north London club is entering an important period in their season.

Baumgartl is a right sided central defender and could likely be a replacement for Laurent Koscielny, allowing Per Mertesacker to stay on the left, where he is most comfortable.

The 18-year-old has made seven appearances this season for Stuttgart and has already represented Germany in the youth level.

However, the Gunners are yet to make an official bid for the player and are likely to be assessing his strengths and weaknesses and if he can cope with the expectations of moving into the Premier League at such a young age.

Arsene Wenger has shown that he is not hesitant to give youngsters a chance, as has been established with Calum Chambers, who started in almost every game that the Gunners have featured in the first half of the season, owing to a plethora of injuries to key players.

Meanwhile, the Gunners are close to securing a deal with Villareal for Gabriel Paulista, subject to work permit issues. The Brazilian has not been capped by his national team and so is not eligible for a EU passport, something which the Gunners have to work around if they want to bring the 24-year-old to the Emirates.

There is also a case about the La Liga club not succumbing to Wenger's valuation of the player and are insisting that the Gunners meet his release clause, which stands at £15m.

The north London club have completed their first January signing of the season in the form of Legia Warsaw midfielder Krystian Bielik, who in spite of being a defensive midfielder by trade, can also put in a shift at centre back.