Arsenal plotting Nicolas Pepe-style deal to land £43m centre-back in January

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Arsenal have identified Villarreal defender Pau Torres as the man to solve their defensive problems and are reportedly ready to get creative to sign the centre-back in January.

The Gunners have endured a poor start to the new season, sitting in sixth place after winning just four of their first 12 games and recording a negative goal difference.

That poor run of form, coupled with questionable tactical decisions and selections, has seen the pressure on Unai Emery grow – though the club have publically backed their manager.

They could also back him in the transfer market, with The Sun reporting that they are exploring a January swoop for Villarreal centre-back Torres.

The 22-year-old, who has played every minute in La Liga this season, is increasingly hot property after scoring on his debut for Spain against Malta on Friday night after replacing skipper Sergio Ramos.

Given his growing profile, Torres will not come cheap and he has a £43million release in his contract which does not expire until 2024.

But that has not put off Arsenal, who are exploring the possibility of constructing a deal similar to the one which secured Nicolas Pepe.

Although the Ivory Coast winger’s £72m arrival from Lille in the summer smashed Arsenal’s transfer record, they only paid £20m up front.

The remaining £52m will be paid off over five years and Gunners bosses are hoping a similar transfer package, staggered over several years, will be acceptable to Villarreal.

Emery will know all about Torres, who has emerged as a central figure at Villarreal this season after spending the previous campaign on loan at Malaga, while Manchester City have also been credited with interest in the cultured, left-footed defender.

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