Per Mertesacker
Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker’s future at the club is in doubt as the club have begun their search for a new central defender  Reuters

Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker's future at the club is reportedly in doubt as the club have begun their search for a new central defender.

According to the Daily Mail, the Gunners have instructed their scouts to identify potential central defensive targets for the summer, despite the arrival of Gabriel Paulista from Villarreal in January.

The former German international has been criticised for some poor performances this season with his worst coming during Arsenal's 3-1 loss at home to AS Monaco in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Arsene Wenger has criticised his defenders for switching off during games this season, and following the loss to the Ligue 1 club, the manager dropped Mertesacker in favour of the Brazilian defender. But he was instantly reinstated due to a hamstring injury suffered by the defender during the game against Queens Park Rangers.

It is believed that the Frenchman sees Laurent Kosielny and Paulista as his first-choice pairing and is looking to add more experience to the back line ahead of next season.

The arrival of a new central defender could see the former Werder Bremen player's involvement drastically reduced, which in turn would lead to the team offloading the German, who has been impressive for Arsenal in recent seasons.

Apart from Mertesacker, the north London club also have Calum Chambers, who was bought as a backup for the current centre-backs. But the arrival of a new defensive player could see him lose out on regular game time, unless Wenger sees his future as a right-back or as a holding midfielder.

The north London club have already started scouting potential targets and have recently been linked with Borussia Dortmund defender Neven Subotic and Dynamo Kiev star Aleksandar Dragovic.