By London correspondent

Martin Keown claims Arsene Wenger is “always on the lookout” to sign emerging English centre-backs for Arsenal.

The Gunners landed England Under-21 international Rob Holding from Bolton this summer and the 20-year-old has made a smooth start to his career for the Premier League giants.

But Arsenal were not in the running to sign John Stones, who became the second most expensive defender ever when he moved from Everton to Manchester City in August for £47.5million.

Nevertheless, former Arsenal defender Keown believes Wenger is a big admirer of mobile, technical defenders in the Stones mould, and puts even greater store in home-grown ones.

Asked in a question-and-answer session whether Stones was the missing link for Arsenal, Keown told the Mail Online: “Arsene Wenger would have wanted him if he could have afforded him. He is of the opinion that central defenders need to be technical players.

“He’s not so bothered about having giants in central defence – he’d rather have mobile, technical defenders – and is always on the lookout for a young, English centre back.

“Would Stones have improved Arsenal’s back four? He wouldn’t have made it any worse and will no doubt have come out with the ball as he has done for City.”

Stones has settled in well at City under new manager Pep Guardiola, starting all seven of the team’s matches, which have all ended in victories.

Arsenal visit Hull for their next assignment on Saturday as they aim to build on a four-match unbeaten run, including wins in their last two league encounters.

In other Arsenal team news, this is the expected starting XI for Saturday’s Premier League clash against Hull.