Cristian Tello
Cristian Tello is struggling to find game time at Barcelona

Arsenal have reportedly emerged frontrunners for the signature of Barcelona forward and Liverpool target Cristian Tello.

The Gunners were already short on numbers up front this season, and the injuries suffered by Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner earlier this month have now pegged the north London outfit further back, when it comes to attacking options.

With Walcott ruled out for the rest of the season, Arsene Wenger has been searching the market for a new, versatile forward, with the likes of Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata and Juventus' Sebastian Giovinco being subjects of a formal enquiry. However, according to Sports Direct News, the Frenchman has now shifted focus to Barca youngster Tello and is closing in on deal.

Tello, a long-time target for Liverpool, had enjoyed a relatively good season with the Catalans last year, managing seven goals and four assists from 22 La Liga appearances (12 starts). However, the arrival of Neymar last summer and the re-emergence of Alexis Sanchez this season have limited the 22-year-old's first team opportunities to just two starts so far this term.

The report claims Barcelona are willing to let Tello leave the Camp Nou in this window, though the two clubs are yet to finalise a fee.

Tello, a La Masia product, mainly operates on the flanks in a 4-3-3 formation but can also be deployed as a centre forward, if needed.

Julian Draxler
Mertesacker has backed Arsenal to move for Draxler

Meanwhile, Arsenal defender and stand-in skipper Per Mertesacker has stated the Gunners would be delighted to welcome Schalke midfielder Julian Draxler, if that transfer goes through this month.

The Londoners have been long-time admirers of the German prodigy and have now been heavily linked with January move for the 20-year-old, despite him being sidelined till mid-February. And Mertesacker believes his compatriot would be an ideal signing for Arsenal.

"We would love to welcome a player like Draxler, he is so young and already plays a huge role in Schalke and in the national team. But there is lots of talking about possible transfers, I am curious about what is going to happen. We already have a little German academy here and I learned that German discipline and talents are very appreciated here (in London)," the Germany international pointed out.