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Gunners close in on Mertesacker to bolster defence

Arsenal are in talks with Werder Bremen over the signing of Germany defender Per Mertesacker.

The Gunners were also understood to be close to concluding a deal for Brazil left-back Andre Santos as they sought to revamp their defence following Sunday's humiliating 8-2 defeat at Manchester United.

The double signing would be music to the ears of Arsenal fans, who have long urged manager Arsene Wenger to strengthen a rearguard that has, at times, been left woefully exposed.

Mertesacker, 26, would also provide much-needed height and experience at the back, standing at 6ft 6in and boasting 75 international caps.

Arsenal have also agreed a fee with Turkish giants Fenerbahce – reportedly £6.2million – for Santos, with the move subject to a medical and personal terms being agreed.

The 28-year-old would help fill the void left by the sale |of Gael Clichy to Manchester City and the departure of Armand Traore to QPR. South Korea captain Park Chu-Young was expected to complete his move from Monaco, while the Gunners have been linked with a host of other names ahead of tomorrow's transfer deadline, including Chelsea trio Florent Malouda, Alex and Yossi Benayoun.

They may abandon their pursuit of Bolton's Gary Cahill should they sign Mertesacker.

Wenger has been given the full backing of Arsenal's majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, and the club's board in the aftermath of the crushing 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford.

As the Gunners flounder, former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas (pictured) flourishes and he was on the mark again for Barcelona last night as he made his La Liga debut in the 5-0 home win over Villareal.

But yesterday a source at Arsenal said that there was no question of Wenger's position being unstable despite the club having just one point from their first three games.

A source said yesterday: “The club is 100 per cent behind Arsene. It is not even an issue.”

Arsenal announced yesterday that as compensation for Sunday's defeat the club were prepared to cover the cost of a ticket for another away game for their 3,000 fans who made the trip.