Arsenal may have set their sights on Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper Rui Patricio, after reports emerged that Russians Anzhi Makhachkala are to hijack their deal for Barcelona No 1 Victor Valdes. The Express believes Arsene Wenger has identified the 25-year-old Portuguese international as replacement for present No 1 Wojciech Szczesny.

Rui Patricio

The Polish international is expected to be replaced as No 1 at the Emirates in the summer and the Mail believes Liverpool's Pepe Reina, Swansea City's Michel Vorm and Chelsea veteran Petr Cech are all on Wenger's wish list. Meanwhile, it is understood the long-serving Arsenal boss has made an £8.4m offer for Patricio but Lisbon are holding out for a fee of £12.6m.

Defensive reinforcement at the north London club could also include a new centre-back, following rumours Belgian international Thomas Vermaelen is interesting Spanish giant Barcelona. If true, Wenger may look to tempt Swansea captain Ashley Williams to move to London.

Arsene Wenger on NextGen Semi Final

Meanwhile, Wenger has praised the Gunners' youth players for an impressive performance in the NextGen series this season. The Frenchman said he had his eye on a few players and expected them to step up to the first team soon.

Wenger also spoke on the future of the Premier League's top clubs, pointing out that the fact three English clubs were in the semi final of the Next Gen series was a good sign for the English game's future. His comments come after the failure of any Premier League club to make it past the first knock-out round of the Champions League this season.

"We've always found the resources to do something special and that's what I like in this team [the Arsenal youngsters] - they don't give up, they keep going and above all there are two, three or four players who I think have a chance to play for Arsenal. That is most important," he told his club's official Web site.

Arsenal's youngsters will face Chelsea's youth team in the first semi final, while Aston Villa play Sporting Lisbon in the second fixture.

And Arsenal first team players return to club duties this weekend, after a break for international fixtures, with Champions League qualification a priority. Wenger and his men are fifth in the table, behind London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham and host Reading on Saturday afternoon.