By Sami Mokbel
An intense scouting drive by Arsenal has pinpointed three of the Bundesliga's top stars as Arsene Wenger attempts to add to the club's growing German contingent.
Wenger has requested detailed dossiers on Borussia Dortmund pair Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan and Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender.
The Arsenal manager is also keeping tabs on Dortmund's Poland right back Lukasz Piszczek, as the Gunners seek a replacement for Bacary Sagna, who could leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.
Talented: Dortmund's Marco Reus is one of a generation of outstanding German youngsters
With Wenger under intense pressure to improve his squad, after eight years without Arsenal winning a trophy, all the club's scouts were asked to recommend two names for every position at the start of the summer in preparation for the opening of the transfer window.
The German trio featured heavily in the list of prospective targets and Wenger has asked to be kept regularly updated on the progress of Gundogan, Reus and Bender.
Hard-working midfielder Bender appears to be held in the highest regard by Wenger.
Indeed, the Gunners saw an 18.5million bid for the Germany player rejected by Leverkusen in the summer.
Wanted: Lars Bender and Ilkay Gundogan (right) could both be the subject of bids from Arsenal
Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has made it clear he has no intention of allowing pacy forward Reus or midfielder Gundogan leave, but the pair remain firmly on Wenger's radar.
When Mesut Ozil dramatically signed for 42.5million from Real Madrid on transfer-deadline day he joined an already healthy number of Germany's top stars in Arsenal's first-team squad.
Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Serge Gnabry have arrived from Werder Bremen, Cologne and Stuttgart respectively in recent seasons.
Even 16-year-old hot prospect Gedion Zelalem is also a German national.
First-team regulars: Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski have already had an impact at Arsenal
And attacking midfielder Thomas Eisfeld, 20, who is expected to feature in Arsenal's Capital One Cup campaign this season, was also signed from Borussia Dortmund.
This influx of German talent at the Emirates is a deliberate ploy by Wenger and his trusted chief scout Steve Rowley.
As revealed by Sportsmail on Tuesday, the first scouting reports conducted by Arsenal on Ozil date back to 2007, when the talented playmaker first broke into Schalke's first team.
Since then, Rowley, at Wenger's request, has extensively expanded Arsenal's scouting network in Germany as the club look to exploit the country's burgeoning talent pool.
And the strategy to enhance their scouting presence seems to be paying off.
In addition to Reus, Gundogan and Bender, Arsenal showed a solid interest in Schalke's wonderkid Julian Draxler over the summer, but the club were not prepared to meet the 19-year-old's 40million release clause.
Youthful: Schalke's Julian Draxler is another potential recruit
The professor: Arsene Wenger continues to scour Europe for the finest signings
In the previous transfer window, in January, Wenger had also tried to sign Bayern Munich pair Manuel Neuer and Mario Gotze then still playing at Dortmund among others.
Rowley, who has ensured that even German academy games are attended by Gunners scouts, spent long periods of last season based in the country as he looked to gain as much knowledge as possible on the nation's best up-and-coming players.
And Wenger's trusted confidant is expected to spend more time in Germany again this season ahead of further spending splurges in January and next summer. In the past Arsenal have, with varying degrees of success, initiated similar scouting strategies in France and Spain during Wenger's lengthy reign at the club.
Past targets: The ambitious Wenger has previously attempted to sign Manuel Neuer and Mario Gotze (right)
Wenger's intrinsic knowledge of French players saw Arsenal sign the likes of Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry and Robert Pires when he arrived in English football.
Later Arsenal took significant steps to tap into the Spanish talent pool by appointing Francis Cagigao as their head scout in the country.
Cagigao, the man who recommended Cesc Fabregas to Wenger, has since led Arsenal's attempts to lure Barcelona's best young talent to London.
Barca defender Martin Montoya, 22, whose contract expires at the end of this season, is the latest to be monitored.