ARSENAL have highlighted Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka as their top target to replace Mesut Ozil at the Emirates.
Ozil is almost certain to quit the Gunners at the end of the season when his existing deal with the club runs out.
And though Arsenal are still trying to convince the Germany World Cup winner to sign a new contract, the club have started to prepare for his departure.
That means scouring the continent looking for a replacement for the playmaker – and according to the Mirror they have found one in the Bundesliga.
Goretzka, 22, is regarded as one of the best young players in Germany and has been watched by a host of top clubs across Europe.
But Schalke fear losing him next summer when his contract runs out, with the midfielder showing no sign of taking up the offer of a new deal.
As he is under 24 the German club would be due a compensation fee for him, but nowhere near his true market value.
So they are considering selling him in the January transfer window if he makes it clear he will not commit his future to the club beyond this season.
Arsenal are said to be watching the situation closely with an open mind to making a move if Schalke make it clear they would be willing to sell in January.
If not they are prepared to wait until the end of the season to get their man – although Manchester City, Liverpool and Bayern Munich have also shown interest.
Much will depend on the status of Ozil at the Emirates, with the 29-year-old still to make a final decision on where he wants to play.
Arsenal have made it clear they want him to stay, and are prepared to make him the highest paid player at the club if he decides to sign a new deal.
But a host of top clubs have shown interest in signing the former Real Madrid ace should he become a free agent next summer.
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is keen to link back up with the midfielder who he worked with during his time at the Bernabeu.
But La Liga giants Barcelona have also made a shock move for Ozil, with a £20million deal even mooted for January.