Arsene Wenger has been surprisingly quiet in the transfer market so far this summer, with the Gunners yet to show their hand.
It is, however, widely acknowledged that they will require fresh faces if they are to challenge for the Premier League title this season.
They may even struggle to retain their top-four standing if they fail to add, with a number of their rivals having been busy bolstering their ranks.
Downing has been identified as one possible new recruit, and it is understood that a big-money offer was put to Villa on Friday.
The 26-year-old has hinted that he will be on his way out of Villa Park in the near future, with contract talks having been shelved.
Liverpool are also keen on the former Middlesbrough man, and it is believed that they remain the favourites to secure his signature.
Kenny Dalglish is, however, yet to meet Villa's asking price and Arsenal are hoping they can lure Downing to the capital.