Arsenal have stepped up interest in Malaga midfielder Jeremy Toulalan and are looking to sign the player this summer. The Express reports the Gunners have earmarked the player as a direct replacement for Cameroon international Alex Song.

Jeremy Toulalan
Jeremy Toulalan Reuters

Song left the Gunners to join Spanish side Barcelona in the summer. And Arsene Wenger has yet to repalce the hard-tackling defensive midfielder in his side. The Frenchman planned to rely on compatriot Abou Diaby but the 26-year-old Paris-born midfielder has spent more time injured than available for first team duty this season, which has forced the north London club to play Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta out of position.

It now appears Wenger has finally acknowledged the need to sign a direct replacement for Song. The club were strongly linked with a few other players for this position, with West Ham United's Mohamed Diame the most commonly rumoured target. There has also been talk of Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama and another Frenchman, Etienne Capoue, arriving at the Emirates.

There is a good relationship between Arsenal and Malaga, with players moving in successive transfer windows from La Rosaleda to the Premier League club; playmaker Santi Cazorla transferred in the summer and left-back Nacho Monreal signed on deadline day in January. And given that the Spanish club, who qualified for the quarter final of the Champions League on Wednesday evening, with a 2-0 win over FC Porto in the second leg, are suffering from financial problems, coach Manuel Pellegrini may have no option but to release Toulalan.

Arsenal will face competition for the 29-year-old though, with Malaga's domestic rivals, Atletico Madrid, also believed to be interested. Toulalan has 20 appearances, in all competitions, for the club this season.

Heynckes on Arsenal Game

Jupp Heynckes

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes has criticised his side for failing to live up to expectations against Arsenal on Wednesday. The Gunners faced the Bavarians at the Allianz Arena for the second leg of the clubs' Champions League knock-out tie.

Munich started the game with a strong 3-1 advantage from the first leg in north London but were a pale shadow of the side that dominated Wenger's men in the first match. Goals from Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny gave Arsenal a well-deserved 2-0 win but ultimately it was not enough. The Germans progressed to the quarter finals on the away goals rule.

"I think altogether we have to be critical of our performance today. At the end, we did get away with a black eye, however. We never played as calm, as we usually do. This game should be an instructive example for us: You have never reached the next round, until the match is played," the Dutch manager told ZDF.