By Editor Wayne Veysey | Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this
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Arsenal have stepped up plans to fill their midfield void in January despite reigniting their season with three consecutive wins.
An Arsenal recruitment source has told Football Insider that club scouts are monitoring four players to fill the anchorman role after losing Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta to long-term injuries, as well as deep-lying playmaker Santi Cazorla.
William Carvalho, Lucas Biglia, Bruno Soriano and Ruben Neves are all on the radar of the Premier League giants.
Arsene Wenger is in the market for a midfield controller after losing first-choice central midfield duo Coquelin and Cazorla for between three and six months each.
As revealed by Football Insider three weeks ago, the Gunners are sending scouts to watch all of William Carvalho’s pre-Christmas matches as they weigh up a move for the Sporting Lisbon star in the winter window.
Emerging Porto star Ruben Neves, 18, has been targeted on the back of some impressive performances since breaking into the first team.
Wenger will also consider loan options if Arsenal are unable to agree a permanent arrival in the notoriously tricky January window.
Lazio’s Lucas Biglia and Villarreal’s Bruno Soriano are among those being considered for a short-term deal.
Southampton’s Victor Wanyama has been reported to be an option but Wenger has ruled out a move despite admitting that he is an admirer of the former Celtic man.
Carvalho, 23, has been on the radar of Arsenal for a number of years – he came close to joining the club on deadline day in the summer of 2014 – while Biglia, 29, and Soriano, 31, are considered immediate solutions to the team’s midfield problem.
All four players are defensive midfielders and have the pedigree to slot straight into Wenger’s team.
Flamini, 31, has started the last three matches in central midfield alongside the more attack-minded Aaron Ramsey, who has effectively replaced Cazorla, but is considered to be only a stop-gap solution for the anchorman role.
Speaking at his media briefing at the end of last month about Arsenal’s recruitment plans in January, Wenger said: “We are in a position where we want to do something.
“If I find the right quality I will do something. Who doesn’t love a bargain? What is for us a bargain is to buy top quality as only top quality strengthens our squad.”