Arsenal have now joined Manchester United in the race for Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez, according to reports in the English media.

 

Manchester United have been strongly linked with the defender in recent weeks, with manager Jose Mourinho unconvinced by his current centre-back options Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling. According to an exclusive in The Sun, Arsenal have joined the Red Devils in pursuit of Gimenez, who is said to be open to a move to the Emirates.

The future of Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker is quite uncertain as the German is on the wrong side of 30 and is still recovering from a knee injury. Shkodran Mustafi, who was signed in a £35 million deal from Valencia this summer, has formed a strong partnership with Laurent Koscielny in central defence, and it is unlikely that Mertesacker will break back into this side should he choose to stay at the Emirates beyond this season.

Gabriel Paulista has been unconvincing whenever he has played and is also unlikely to break up the Mustafi-Koscielny partnership. Although Wenger signed young Englishman Rob Holding in the summer, The Sun claim that he has sounded out Atletico Madrid about a move for Jose Gimenez.

Atletico Madrid's Uruguayan defender Jose Maria Gimenez celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match Elche FC vs Club Atletico Madrid at the Martin Valero stadium in Valencia on December 6, 2014. (Photo credit should read JOSE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Atletico Madrid’s Uruguayan defender Jose Maria Gimenez celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match Elche FC vs Club Atletico Madrid at the Martin Valero stadium in Valencia on December 6, 2014. (Photo courtesy – JOSE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The 21-year old, who has made 48 appearances since joining Atletico in 2013, has been attracting a lot of interest in Europe after his performances for Atletico over the past two seasons. Rivals Real Madrid were also rumoured to be interested, but no concrete moves have been made for the defender so far.

The defender has already represented Uruguay 21 times, making his debut as a 19-year old at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Gimenez currently has 20 months left on his contract, and any potential suitors will likely have to pay the full release clause of £54 million until his deal expires.

Although both Arsenal and Manchester United have the means to pay that fee, it is extremely unlikely that they will meet the release clause, particularly given the amount of time left on the Uruguayan’s deal. The Premier League duo will likely bide their time before weighing up a serious offer in the next year-and-a-half.

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