Arsenal are believed to be frontrunners in the race to sign Bayern Munich centre-back Jerome Boateng, but newly appointed boss Mikel Arteta is keeping his options open.
Boateng has only featured eight times for the Bavarian giants in the Bundesliga this season, and is therefore expected to seek a move away from the Allianz Arena in the near future.
Considering his potential availability, the 31-year-old is believed to be an option for Arteta - although the Spaniard is also considering Juventus centre-back Daniele Rugani, according to a report.
The Daily Star claims that while Boateng is the priority, Arsenal will turn to 25-year-old Italian Rugani should they fail in their bid to land the German. The defender is similarly out of favour in Turin, having played just three times this term in all competitions.
Arsenal's move for former Man City man Boateng may well hinge on interest from both Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, who are perhaps more attractive options considering the north Londoners are down in 12th in the Premier League and facing a scrap to qualify for the Europa League, let alone the Champions League.
Germany international Boateng would bring vital experience, with seven Bundesliga titles and a Champions League trophy in his cabinet. Meanwhile, Rugani boasts four Serie A successes and three Coppa Italia wins despite his tender age.
A new central defender is seemingly top of Arsenal's shopping list following a pretty disastrous start to the campaign under Unai Emery. The Gunners have shipped a concerning 28 goals so far this term, and one of Arteta's priorities having taken the reins must surely be shoring up the back line.
Considering their lack of game time, it must be said that Boateng and Rugani do present realistic opportunities to strengthen that area. While Boateng's wages would be steep, Rugani would likely demand more in terms of a transfer fee, so there is that to consider for the new Arsenal boss and the club's hierarchy.
"I'm pleased with a lot of things we worked on in training that actually happened in the game, and how they bought into this.— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 30, 2019
"I'm disappointed with the result but pleased with a lot of things I've seen."#MondayMotivation pic.twitter.com/CrhxeIb7lA
The north Londoners' rear guard was found wanting once again on Sunday as Chelsea emerged victorious from their clash at the Emirates having trailed 1-0 at half-time. A mistake from Bernd Leno and poor defending from Shkodran Mustafi proved decisive. It is certainly an area that Arteta will want to address sooner rather than later.