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 by targeting four players in the January window.
An Arsenal recruitment source has told Football Insider that quartet 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 anchorman after losing first-choice central midfield duo Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla for between three and six months each.
As revealed by Football Insider a fortnight 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.
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.
Wenger has been forced to turn to Mathieu Flamini after injuries to Coquelin, Cazorla and Mikel Arteta as well as long-term absentee Jack Wilshere, who has played in the anchorman position for England.
Flamini, 31, has started the last three matches in central midfield but is considered to be only a stop-gap solution for the anchorman role.
The Frenchman will start alongside Aaron Ramsey in Greece on Wednesday night as Arsenal chase the win they need to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages.
Speaking at his media briefing 12 days ago 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.”