Marco Reus on Gunners' radar if Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez contract talks fail
Marco Reus has been identified as a leading potential replacement for Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil should the club fail to extend the contracts of their two star players.
Arsenal's priority is still to persuade both players to stay beyond the expiry of their deals in 2018 but the club would be extremely reluctant to let them play into the final year of their contracts if no agreement could be reached by next August.
It is understood that offers of around £180,000 a week have been made, although salaries in excess of £200,000 a week have become increasingly common for elite Premier League players.
"It doesn't really depend on me so much as it does the club, if they want to show confidence in me," said Sanchez last week, in apparent reference to his potential salary.
Sanchez, who has scored 14 goals this season, would be arguably more difficult to replace but Reus is a player of long-standing interest to the club.
Like Sanchez, Reus is 27 and can operate both as a main central striker or in one of the three more withdrawn attacking roles that manager Arsene Wenger employs in his usual 4-2-3-1 system.
He has scored more than 20 goals in two of the past three seasons at Borussia Dortmund and, although under contract until 2019, could receive a huge pay rise at Arsenal.
Wenger himself is out of contract at the end of the season but has said that he will resolve his future in the new year and there has been no indication that his situation is impacting on the Ozil /Sanchez negotiations.
Although Wenger has claimed that both players would stay until at least 2018 regardless of whether they agree a new deal, Arsenal have previously accepted offers for key players once it became clear that they would not renew.
Ozil and Sanchez are happy both with living in London and how they play regularly in their preferred positions for Arsenal but Wenger knows that, as well as meeting their financial demands, much will hinge on whether the club can challenge for the league title.
In the space of just eight days, Arsenal have gone from top to fourth, nine points behind leaders Chelsea.
There are also renewed questions about their mental strength in the biggest games after they lost to Manchester City despite having led 1-0.
With a relatively kind fixture list until they face Chelsea at the start of February, Arsenal now have a chance to re-establish their momentum but could be without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against West Brom on St Stephen's Day. Oxlade-Chamberlain came off after playing only 13 minutes against City with a hamstring injury that is still being assessed.
Danny Welbeck has now rejoined full training following knee-ligament surgery but will not be in contention for the first team until next month.
Shkodran Mustafi and Per Mertesacker should also return in the new year and, while Santi Cazorla is unlikely to be available until March, Wenger is not planning any senior additions in January.
Wenger believes that this is his most complete squad and, after an unbeaten Premier League run that stretched from the first day of the season until last week, is confident that they can still challenge across the three major competitions.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech is also adamant that there is time to catch former club Chelsea.
"There's a long way to go and we can come back, ideally win the next game and then get on a run," Cech said. "Anything can happen so we need to concentrate on ourselves, go back to winning games and we'll see what the others will do. We are very disappointed."
Gabriel, who has been playing alongside Laurent Koscielny in the absence of Mustafi, said that the performances were not defensively acceptable. For the first time in his career, Cech has gone eight Premier League games without a clean sheet.
"This cannot happen; I think each of us needs to reflect and try to keep each other in check," said Gabriel. "Now is a good time for the team to stop and think about the mistakes we've made." (© Daily Telegraph, London)