By Will Butcher

Arsenal have extended their centre-back search by making an approach for Southampton captain Jose Fonte, according to a report.

The 32-year-old’s stock has never been higher after winning Euro 2016 with Portugal this summer, and he has also been targeted by Arsenal’s rivals Manchester United.

ESPN claim that the Saints stopper is keen to join Jose Mourinho’s side, but the Gunners have now made an approach as they look to address their centre-back crisis.

The north London side are without captain Per Mertesacker until the new year, while Brazilian defender Gabriel has been ruled out for two months. Laurent Koscielny is also still recovering from his summer exploits although he is likely to return this weekend.

Arsenal are also monitoring Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi, Bayer Leverkusen’s Omer Toprak and Fenerbahce’s Simon Kjaer to fill their centre-back void.

The Gunners were left with inexperienced duo Rob Holding and Calum Chambers at centre-back, as Liverpool scored four goals in last Sunday’s thrilling Premier League opener at Emirates Stadium, which Jurgen Klopp’s side won 4-3 despite a late rally from the home side.

ESPN claim that Mourinho will have to sell a defender before bringing in Fonte, and that could give Arsenal the edge as they look to bring in a centre-back before Arsenal’s tea-time kick off against champions Leicester on Saturday.

The Portuguese international has been a key figure for the Saints since joining the club in League One six years ago.

The defender took over the captaincy from Adam Lallana in 2014 and he had also signed a new contract with the club last October, which still has two years left to run.

In other Arsenal transfer news, this former Arsenal defender is contemplating a move to the Indian Super League.