Benedikt Howedes Schalke
Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes is receiving admiring glances from Arsenal manager Arsene WengerReuters

Arsenal look set to beat Manchester United to the signature of World Cup winner Benedikt Howedes, with Arsene Wenger firming his interest in the Schalke man.

Howedes was linked with a move to the English Premier League in the summer, with the versatile defender eventually deciding to stay put in Gelsenkirchen.

However, that has not quelled the interest from the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United, with both sides desperate to land a defender in the January transfer window.

Howedes will fit in perfectly at both Arsenal and Manchester United, and both teams have been given encouragement over making a move in January after the 26-year-old admitted he would be open for a fresh challenge in the future.

"An adventure abroad? It's a temptation," Howedes was quoted as saying by the Daily Express. "But I do not know when the time is right for such an experience.

"At Schalke I'm fine, but maybe at some point I might feel tempted for something new. This is not to say that I will go in January or next summer."

If there is one club who could use a player like Howedes, it certainly is Arsenal at the moment, with Wenger seriously short of options at the back.

Laurent Koscielny continues to struggle with an Achilles injury, and with Calum Chambers having fill-in at right-back as Mathieu Debuchy recovered from an ankle problem, Wenger has been forced to employ left-back Nacho Monreal as a central defender.

Monreal is also currently out through injury, which in turn forced Wenger to play Debuchy, who only just returned from injury, at centre-back against Newcastle United, with Calum Chambers, the other option, serving a suspension.

Once Chambers is back, Wenger will have a player more comfortable in the centre-back position, but the manager knows he needs more bodies in defence.

Howedes was an integral part of the Germany squad which won the World Cup in Brazil in the summer, and with the player able to play as a fullback and a central defender, he certainly fits the bill.

Wenger has zoned in on Howedes as the man to sign in January, according to the Daily Star, with the Arsenal manager ready to beat out Manchester United, who have also shown an interest to sign the Germany international next month.

Louis Van Gaal has been linked with several other defenders, though, and that might allow Wenger to finally sign the player that he really should have brought in before the start of the season.

However, with Schalke in the knockout stages of the Champions League, where they have been drawn with title holders Real Madrid, it might be a little difficult to convince Howedes to move midseason, with Wenger having to use all of his persuasive powers to make the player believe that his immediate and long-term future lies at Arsenal.