By Nick Teale
Arsène Wenger will spend the next few weeks assessing the defensive options he will have available next season - and the manager admits that if William Gallas leaves, Arsenal will sign a new defender.
The 32-year-old's current deal expires this summer and while negotiations are continuing over a new contract, there has been no agreement yet.
Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre also hold contracts that expire in the summer and Wenger admits it is important to get the balance right in the squad.
However, the manager has been boosted by the return to full training of Johan Djourou, who has been unable to make a competitive appearance so far this season.
Wenger accepts that he will have to wait and see how well the Swiss international recovers from his knee injury, but for now the focus remains on Gallas' future.
"What is for sure if Gallas doesn't extend his contract we have to go out and strengthen this position," said the manager. "For the rest we will see.
"There is a cut off point for Gallas. It doesn't depend only on me. Gallas can come and say 'Boss we will stop the talks because I signed somewhere and that's it'.
"I could set a deadline for us and that will certainly be before the end of May because we then have to look for someone else. We have more talks planned.
"I still have to assess the Gallas and Campbell situations. Silvestre is out of contract too and the whole package has to be right - one goes, one stays. We have to get the number right.
"If Gallas and Campbell stay it will depend slightly on how well Djourou comes back about what we will do. He looks good in training, quite positive."