Arsenal are in pole position ahead of Manchester United in the race to sign German centre-half Matthias Ginter.

English daily The Mirror reports that Arsène Wenger sent his chief scout Steve Rowley to watch the 20-year-old play in Freiburg’s 4-1 away win against Eintracht Frankfurt yesterday. David Moyes also travelled to Germany to view the player in action last month, while Borussia Dortmund are also card-carrying members of the raw young German’s fan club.

The Gunners have been on the trail of 6ft 3in 20-year-old for months, but are now stepping up their interest ahead of a summer bid.

Manchester United have also been keeping an eye on the player, but Wenger has strong relations with Freiburg and would have a good chance in the chase. Wenger sees Ginter as a long-term signing for the Emirates side although he might have to settle for a place on the bench initially if he joins. With Thomas Vermaelen likely to leave at the end of a frustrating campaign, Wenger needs a new commanding defender – and Ginter fits the bill.

The defender has already made 25 starts this season in the Bundesliga and made his full debut for Germany against Chile in a recent friendly. Ginter began his career with SV March, before he moved to the youth squad of SC Freiburg for the 2005–06 season. With the A-youth squad, he won the Junior DFB-Pokal.

In January 2012, Ginter trained with Freiburg’s first team due, in part, to a loss of several players from the roster during the winter transfer window. On 21 January 2012 Ginter made his professional debut when he was substituted in for Anton Putsila in the 70th minute against fellow relegation battlers FC Augsburg. In the 88th minute of the game, he scored the winning goal from a free-kick by Michael Lumb for his team in the 1–0 victory. The goal, which came two days after Ginter’s 18th birthday, made him SCF’s youngest Bundesliga goalscorer in the club’s history. Two days later, on 23 January, Ginter signed a contract to join the first team of SC Freiburg. He had his national team debut on wednesday the 5th of march at the friendly match in Germany against Chile, were he was substituted in the 88th minute for Özil and therefore goes into the history books as the 900th german national player.

The Gunners will be heavily contested by Manchester United for his signature,but with the Red Devils set to miss out on Champions League football after a harrowing defeat at the hands of Liverpool, the Emirates may prove to be a more desirable option for the 20-year-old.

Of course, Ginter isn’t the only German to have caught Moyes’s eye. The beleaguered Manchester United manager has a rather lengthy shopping list for his summer trolley dash, which includes a number of prospective purchases from the aisle marked “Bundesliga midfielders”; any combination of Schalke’s Julian Draxler, Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus, and Bayern Munich’s Toni Kroos could end up in his trolley.