Ashley Williams
Ashley Williams may have the leadership qualities to help Arsenal's defense. Reuters

Arsenal look set to face an uphill struggle to lure Swansea City center back Ashley Williams to the Emirates this summer, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The Gunners are said to have had a bid of £9 million ($14 million) rejected for the Wales captain in the January transfer window but look set to continue their interest at the end of the season. However, strong competition is set to come from Premier League rivals Liverpool, if their manager Brendan Rodgers can persuade the club’s owners to sanction a £12 million offer for a 28-year-old.

While Arsenal have had more success on the pitch of late and could well offer a place in the Champions League for next season, Williams could be drawn to Anfield to reunite with his former Swansea boss as well as turning out for the team he supported as a boy.

Signing a new central defender appears to have become a priority for manager Arsene Wenger after continued struggles for his back line. Captain Thomas Vermaelen has been dropped from the side since a poor showing in Arsenal’s derby defeat to Tottenham last month.

As part of that defensive reshuffle, Wojciech Szczesny has also been replaced in goal by fellow-Pole Lukasz Fabianski. There continues to be speculation that Wenger will look to bring in a new goalkeeper in the summer.

A number of names have been linked, but the Daily Mail now claims that Arsenal have opened talks about the signing of Stoke City stopper Asmir Begovic. The Gunners reportedly made an inquiry for the Bosnia international in January and have now been quoted a £15 million valuation for the 25-year-old.

Begovic has also been linked to Chelsea in the past, while Manchester United were said to be keen to sign him this summer. The player’s desire for regular first-team action could make Arsenal favorites, however.

The capture of a striker also looks to be high on Wenger’s list of priorities in the summer transfer window. While Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic is thought to be the leading target, the agent of Saint-Etienne front man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has claimed that Arsenal are watching his client.

The 23-year-old has scored 17 goals in Ligue 1 this season and is said to be attracting interest from clubs across Europe.

“There are a couple of clubs in the Bundesliga and there is interest from Newcastle and Tottenham," Oscar Damiani said, according to the Daily Star.

"And I know for certain that Manchester City and Arsenal watch him constantly."

Meanwhile, there are further reports of Arsenal’s interest in Borussia Dortmund’s Mario Goze, this time from German magazine Kicker. The Gunners were linked to the young midfielder last year before the Germany international signed a new contract.

Kicker reports, however, that there's a release clause in Gotze’s contract that, from June this year, will allow him to leave if a bid of €40 million (£34m) is received. Manchester City are also credited with a strong interest in the 20-year-old.

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