Arsenal's search for greater strength in midfield continues, with the latest transfer rumours linking the club with three prospective powerhouses in the middle.
The current news involves a renewed interest in Real Madrid's Sami Khedira. There is also a further development in a potential deal for Sporting Lisbon's young ace William Carvalho.
Finally, manager Arsene Wenger could be ready to revive interest in a versatile target he missed out on last summer.
Here's a more in-depth look at each of these rumours, beginning with the state of play on Carvalho.
Gunners Closer to Deal for Carvalho
Wenger's reported interest in 22-year-old Carvalho seems to be gathering pace. Portuguese newspaper Record (h/t Daily Star reporter Chisanga Malata) suggested the Gunners could sign the player by the end of this week.
Leen's belief that the two clubs are closer to working out a deal provides hope that what would be an excellent transfer can go through before the start of the new season.
There is plenty to recommend Carvalho to Arsenal. The most notable quality is the strength he would add to an otherwise technically gifted but feeble midfield.
Carvalho is pure muscle and aggression in the middle. While adding such a player isn't a fix all for every woe in the Arsenal squad, it is something Wenger's current group lacks.
Signing a young and raw talent, whose game can be refined by one of the best player developers in the game, is a great way to solve that imbalance.
Wenger Tries To Dodge Interest in Khedira, Link Only Grows Stronger
Arsenal's interest in Sami Khedira hasn't exactly been a secret during this transfer window. However, that didn't stop Wenger trying to dodge the issue following his team's 5-1 Emirates Cup win over Benfica.
You want me always to buy more. Where do I put them all?
What is enquire for you? But If I read the newspapers, he is available. Thank you.
Mafham's report takes those words as a hint of a pending £30 million bid for the Real Madrid midfield man. That may be a bit of a stretch, considering Khedira has just one year left on his current deal with Los Blancos.
That fact is making Madrid very nervous. The 10-time European Cup winners fear a free-transfer swoop from Arsenal's Premier League rivals Chelsea in 12 months time, per Daily Star reporter Paul Brown.
Madrid will be hoping Khedira and Arsenal can find a compromise over the player's lavish wage demands. If there's a compromise to be reached, Khedira would be a superb addition to the Gunners.
He's less an outright midfield destroyer, as he is a tough, smart and resourceful runner. Khedira offers energy, power and sound tactical awareness.
The only Arsenal midfielder who currently comes close to embodying all three of those qualities at a high level is Aaron Ramsey. Khedira would make an excellent partner in the middle for the precocious Welshman.
Which Midfield Powerhouse Should Arsenal Sign?
The duo would rotate positions at will, playing with intelligence to fill any gaps forward raids by the other might leave behind. That kind of movement perfectly suits the fluid style of play Wenger craves.
But inflated fiscal demands are exactly the kind of thing that prompts Wenger to digs his heels in during a negotiation. While it annoys many, it's not an entirely unreasonable position.
If Khedira refuses to budge, don't complain when Wenger decides he won't be held to ransom.
Josuha Guilavogui Emerging as a Cheap Alternative
Wenger could already be on the lookout for cheaper alternatives to Khedira; Josuha Guilavogui has recently emerged as one such target.
Spanish publication AS (h/t Inside Spanish Football writer Tom Conn) believes Arsenal are ready to make a late move for the player Bundesliga club Wolfsburg have already bid €15 million for:
Atletico Madrid are considering the sale due to the fact that Mario Suarez, Thiago [and] Gabi are all returning this season, and with Saul coming back from his loan spell with Rayo, there is no opportunity for the 23-year-old to get minutes.
However, according to various sources in England, Arsenal are also ready to match Wolfsburg’s bid, leaving it up to the player decide his own fate.
This isn't the first time Wenger has been credited with interest in Guilavogui. He reportedly bid €10 million for the then-Saint-Etienne player last summer, per Le10 Sport (h/t Sport Witness).
Signing Guilavogui would be like the deals Wenger used to make. He's young, versatile, relatively unknown and available for a modest fee.
Guilvaogui can play in either midfield or defence and is certainly a prospect Wenger will look at it and find the right role for.
The latest transfer rumours indicate how serious Wenger is about adding some brawn alongside the ample flair in his current midfield. The Gunners boss will never let his midfielders be strictly defensive, but Wenger will be acutely aware of how a more physically solid, stabilising force can balance his team at its critical position.