Arsenal's search for a centre-back could lead them to Belgium and Anderlecht's powerful youngster Cheikhou Kouyate. According to a report from Sky Sports, Kouyate is keen on joining the Gunners, after stating he will leave the Belgian outfit this summer.
The Sky Sports report also states Arsenal are known admirers of Kouyate. Manager Arsene Wenger certainly needs to add a commanding central defender to his squad and Kouyate fits the mold.
He is a tall, ultra-athletic stopper who would suit the fast and rugged pace of the English Premier League. At just 23, Kouyate also fits Wenger's preference for recruiting youthful talent and constructing a young team.
A Senegal international, Kouyate combines his strength and pace with excellent technique on the ball. He is very much a ball-playing centre-back. Kouyate is technically composed and can be relied to chip in with his share of goals, both from open play and set pieces.
That combination of skill in possession and quickness and tenacity in the challenge, has been missing from Arsenal's back line for some time. Wenger's current central defensive pairings are usually missing at least one crucial requirement.
Club skipper Thomas Vermaelen has been banished to the bench, after a series of rash displays. Germany international Per Mertesacker is certainly a calmer, more solid presence.
Yet the veteran lacks pace and agility and is often exposed by speedy, tricky attackers. Frenchman Laurent Koscielny is quick across the ground and a precise tackler.
However, the former FC Lorient man can be easily outmuscled and is guilty of more than his share of calamity in his own box. It's clear Wenger must find new recruits to help achieve the right defensive balance next season.
Kouyate is the kind of under the radar signing the Gunners boss is often fond of making. From a physical standpoint, he has the attributes Arsenal's back four is missing.
He would offer height, power and speed at the heart of the Gunners' defence. He might also be available at a reasonable price, something else that would no doubt appeal to the financially prudent Wenger.
That's certainly a price worth paying to acquire a young and athletic upgrade for the middle of Arsenal's defence.