Maxi Pereira
Pereira is currently in the final year of his Benfica contractReuters

Arsenal are reportedly looking to beat Premier League rivals Liverpool to the signature of Benfica defender Maxi Pereira in the winter transfer window.

Many clubs are reportedly on alert as the 30-year-old is currently in the last year of his Benfica contract, meaning he will be available at a reduced price in January.

Earlier reports had indicated that Liverpool were leading the race to sign the Uruguayan right-back, with manager Brendan Rodgers keen to find a replacement for Glen Johnson, who is expected to leave Anfield after the expiration of his contract this summer.

However, according to the Express, Arsenal are now in pole position to sign Pereira, with Arsene Wenger also keen to sign a new right-back in January.

The Gunners are currently in a defensive injury crisis and Wenger has been forced to play the inexperienced Calum Chambers in the right-back position after first choice right-back Mathieu Debuchy was ruled out for three months with a tear in his ankle ligaments.

Due to this reason, Arsenal, who have been pretty poor at the back this season, are looking at signing an experienced right-back to add extra resources to their squad.

Meanwhile, the Gunners have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Lars Bender following reports of Barcelona also joining the race to land the Bayer Leverkusen defensive midfielder in January.

Despite already having the likes of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, Wenger is reportedly keen to bring a new holding midfielder as Arsenal have struggled in that position this season.

While Arsenal captain Arteta has been facing a lot of problems with injuries this season, Flamini has simply failed to make an impact.

Due to this reason the 65-year-old Frenchman was thought to be lining up a £19 million bid for the 25-year-old, with Arsenal also interested in the likes of William Carvalho, Morgan Schneiderlin and Sami Khedira.

However, now it seems like Arsenal will face some stiff competition for Bender's signature as Barcelona are also reportedly interested in a January move for the German, according to the Express.

The Catalan club are reportedly looking for someone to replace the ageing Xavi Hernandez, who is nearing the end of his career.