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Arsenal ready to pay £9m for Bundesliga leader who could replace Per Mertesacker

Arsenal have been linked with a renewed interest in Schalke 04 defender Benedikt Howedes.

German publication Bild, cited in The Telegraph, reports that the Gunners will make a move for the World Cup winner next summer, when his contract with his Bundesliga club enters its final year.

Howedes told Sky Sports in July that he turned down a move to the Emirates Stadium in favour of staying with Schalke, where he has spent his entire career since making his first-team debut in 2007.

But the 27-year-old seems to have kept his options open because he has a £9m release clause in his contract, according to The Telegraph, and Arsenal may finally get their man at the end of the season.

Signing the Schalke captain – a natural leader with bags of international experience for Germany – would represent a similar move to Arsene Wenger’s purchase of Per Mertesacker in the summer of 2011.

Although the potential arrival of Howedes, who can also operate at left-back, may spell bad news for Mertesacker’s place in the team, with current partner Laurent Koscielny an automatic selection.

It may be that Wenger is looking to bring in somebody who can replace Mertesacker’s influence in the dressing room as the 31-year-old moves towards the twilight years of his Premier League career.

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