William Saliba is expected to join Nice on loan this week as Arsenal prepare for a defensive revamp over the next few months.
Saliba, who has yet to play for the Gunners, is in France for a medical ahead of a short-term move.
But a wider clear-out of defenders is on the cards at the Emirates with up to five likely to leave between now and the end of next summer's transfer window.
The Saliba deal does not contain an option to be made permanent as Arsenal still hope the 19-year-old will realise his potential with them.
But the long-term futures of Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac, David Luiz and Calum Chambers all remain in doubt as the club scout for defenders.
Nice are not paying a loan fee for Saliba but will pay all of his wages after beating off competition from Marseille and St Etienne to sign him.
Arsenal signed Saliba in the summer of 2019 for £27million before loaning him back to St Etienne, but he has not progressed after joining up with the Gunners this season.
Manager Mikel Arteta gave the all-clear for him to return to St Etienne on loan again during the last transfer window, but the paperwork was not completed in time.
Arteta wants a revamp of the Arsenal defence, with Mustafi, Sokratis and Kolasinac all free to leave this month and David Luiz out of contract next summer.
He also wants Kieran Tierney playing more often at left-back than centre-back, but any move for defensive reinforcements depends on who leaves the club.
Arsenal still have Gabriel Magalhaes, Rob Holding and Pablo Mari on the books, but are also willing to let Chambers go.
Arteta wants to bring in a forward in this window and has his eyes on Real Madrid misfit Vinicius, who could be available on loan.
Arsenal also looked at Real playmaker Isco but with the player's preference to join Sevilla and the emergence of Emile Smith Rowe, they are ready to end their interest.
Smith Rowe, 20, has two assists since coming into the side for their last three Premier League games, which all ended in victory as Arsenal climbed the table.
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