Saints' teen prodigy joins Barca's Villa on Wenger's list of targets
ARSENAL are expected to sound out Southampton today over their 17-year-old defender Luke Shaw, with manager Arsene Wenger having identified left-back as one of his transfer priorities for 2013.
Shaw should start for Southampton against Arsenal at St Mary's this evening and has also already been extensively scouted this season by several other leading clubs, including Chelsea.
Wenger has spent more than £20m on two of Southampton's best academy graduates of recent years, with both Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain and Theo Walcott likely to play today for Arsenal against their former club.
Southampton also produced Gareth Bale and Wenger yesterday praised the south coast club's academy while making it clear that he was well aware of Shaw.
"We produce some but not as many," said Wenger. "It is exceptional what they have done.
Three wingers and Luke Shaw – that is a good way to study what they have done." Southampton are unlikely to let Shaw leave at this stage of the season but it will be an opportunity today for Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive, to make an informal inquiry to Nicola Cortese, the Southampton chairman.
Although Kieran Gibbs struggled for Arsenal in Saturday's 7-3 win over Newcastle, he is still regarded by Wenger as his left-back in the long term. Injuries, however, have slowed his progress and there are serious doubts about the defensive capabilities of Andre Santos in reserve. Arsenal have also scouted Everton left-back Leighton Baines.
Wenger does expect to be active this month and a bid of around £10m is likely over the next week for Wilfried Zaha, the Crystal Palace striker.
Zaha, an Arsenal fan, dropped a clear hint that he hoped to move to the Premier League this month. "To be honest, if I had the chance in January and Palace agreed, it's something I'd want," he said.
Arsenal would also like to sign a striker and have not given up hope on a potential deal for David Villa or Demba Ba. It would take an offer in the region of £15m to sign Villa, although negotiations could be smoothed by the fact that Arsenal are still owed money from Barcelona for the sales of Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song.
Further contract negotiations with Walcott will also influence Arsenal's dealings this month.
Walcott has scored four goals in three games since moving into a central striker's position and, should he stay, Wenger will feel that he may now have an internal solution for the void that has been left by Robin van Persie's departure.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)