Liverpool are reportedly confident of beating Arsenal to the signature of Swansea defender Ashley Williams in the summer. Liverpool are in the market for a defender to replace the retiring Jamie Carragher and has earmarked Williams as his successor at Anfield.

Ashley Williams
Ashley Williams

The Guardian reports that the Gunners have had a £9m bid rejected in January by Swansea, who are holding out for a fee in the range of £12m.The Gunners are expected to come back in with a better offer, but manager Brendan Rodgers is hopeful that the 28-year-old will choose Liverpool over London if given a choice.

Rodgers, who has a good relationship with the defender since his time at Swansea, will be looking to use his influence to lure the player to Anfield, in spite of the possibility of playing Champions League football with the Gunners. Williams is also a childhood Liverpool fan, according to reports and holds Merseyside legend John Barnes as his idol. However, Arsenal are also keen on the player and are not expected to go down without a fight. The Gunners are in the market to replace Thomas Vermaelen who has fallen out of favour with Arsene Wenger and has been linked with a move to Barcelona in the summer.

Arsenal are in the running for a top four place, with the Gunners currently two points behind Chelsea and Tottenham, with seven games to go till the end of the season. Wenger has been tipped to make a major splurge in the summer transfer window according to former board member and friend David Dien, with the Swansea defender reported to be his priority. However, Wenger does have back-up targets should they fail to land the player, with Marseille centre-backNicolas N'Koulou and Athletic Bilbao defender Fernando Amorebieta also linked with a move.

Wenger on Vermaelen

Arsene Wenger has revealed that Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen has taken his ouster from the squad remarkably well and has responded positively to his treatment. The Belgian will return to the squad against Norwich, with Mertesacker currently suspended owing to his sending off against West Brom last weekend.

"He took it in a remarkable way [when he lost his place]. He is a great man and I didn't make him captain by coincidence. I knew there is something mentally special there. He responds in positive situations and in less positive situations like when you don't play," Wenger told Arsenal's Official Websit.