Arsenal have once against been linked with Manchester United centreback Chris Smalling.

Arsene Wenger’s interest in the England international began while he was at Fulham. However, in 2010, Manchester United swooped in and bought him for £10m.

Since this point, Arsenal have been linked with a move for the 26-year-old on and off. We were even being linked with a move for him last year. However, while many are quick to wave away a potential move for the defender, I don’t think they reports all that outlandish.

This season under Jose Mourinho, Smalling has only made seven Premier League appearances and while this is largely down to him struggling with his fitness (nothing new there), old Jose’s patience seems to be wearing thin.

Ahead of the Red Devils’ match with Swansea, which they ended up winning 3-2, he appeared annoyed with both Smalling and Luke Shaw after the two players withdrew from the squad.

“Smalling doesn’t feel that he can play 100 per cent with his pain.

Luke Shaw told me this morning that he was not in the condition to play so we had to build a defensive line.”

According to the Sun, there’s been a falling out between Mourinho and the player, which sounds plausible but this could just be based on the former Chelsea manager’s comments.

We also have the fact that Per Mertesacker, despite wanting to stay at Arsenal, might not. The lanky German has been out all season with a knee injury that he had to have operated on and while he’s fighting to return in the new year, his Arsenal contract runs out in June 2017.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Chris Smalling of Manchester United tackles Diego Costa of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 23: Chris Smalling of Manchester United tackles Diego Costa of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 23, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Could Smalling be a replacement for Per?

Smalling’s younger and despite not being at the same level as Laurent Koscielny or Shkodran Mustafi, that’s not who we need. Just a reasonably experienced centreback, which he is. Plus, he’s eight years younger than Per.

Would Mourinho sell to Arsenal? Probably not. In all honesty I can’t ever see Jose and Arsene doing business. But he clearly doesn’t rate Smalling so you never know, his contract runs out in 2019 and he might see an opportunity to cash in.

Inter Milan and Liverpool have also been linked.