Barcelona plotting surprise swoop for Arsenal defender Koscielny

Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova is reportedly targeting Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny as he looks to boost his defensive options according to the Metro.

The 42-year-old, who replaced Pep Guardiola at the Nou Camp helm, is keen to sign a central defender in the summer and is said to have identified the France international as his priority target.

Guardiola was into using Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets as emergency stand-in’s for Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique on occasions last season as they lost the La Liga title to rivals Real Madrid.

Gunners star Thomas Vermaelen and AC Milan’s Thiago Silva were originally top of Vilanova’s shopping list but proved too expensive with the latter now close to joining mega-rich French club Paris Saint Germain.

The Catalan giants are operating with a limited budget following their lavish spending last year that saw Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez arrive in big money deals.

Koscielny has emerged as a more affordable option with reports suggesting that Vilanova is seriously considering making an approach to the North London club as he kicks his inaugural recruitment drive into gear.

The 26-year-old was much improved last term after struggling during is debut campaign at the Emirates Stadium with his performances garnering interest from around Europe.

Inter Milan were said to be interested in bringing him to the San Siro with Barca now making him a possible target just days after he opened talks about a new long-term contract.

The Gunners want Koscielny to sign a five-year deal to stay in North London that will come with a substantial pay rise to reward his development over the past 12-months.

Arsene Wenger is desperate to hang onto the former Lorient centre back who joined the club in the club in July 2010 and has become a dependable player for the Arsenal boss.