Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has set his sights on two more additions to his squad before the end of the transfer window, and plans to make moves for Newcastle's Cheick Tiote and Olympiakos' Kostas Manolas.
Sam Adams of the Mirror writes that the Gunners' boss will make an £8 million bid for Ivory Coast midfielder Tiote after failing in a move for German international Sami Khedira.
Tiote is reportedly keen to join Arsenal after being linked with the North London giants in the past, per Adams.
And Matt Law of The Telegraph explains that 23-year-old Manolas—who was named one of the 50 best players at the World Cup in Brazil—is Wenger's prime target to replace outgoing skipper Thomas Vermaelen.
Manolas is viewed as a direct replacement for Vermaelen, who recently completed his move to Barcelona, but there is some debate as to whether the player would be happy being an understudy to Arsenal's first-choice pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, per Law.
Goal.com's Wayne Veysey also confirmed Arsenal are looking to purchase Manolas and hope to conclude a deal swiftly:
Arsenal working hard on deal for Kostas Manolas. Could look to wrap it up quickly.— Wayne Veysey (@wayneveysey) August 12, 2014
Tiote has been a much in-demand name in previous transfer windows, and he has been a proven Premier League talent over many seasons.
But recently he was quoted by Steph Clark of The Northern Echo speaking positively about Newcastle's forthcoming campaign, proclaiming his delight with the Geordies' new recruits:
I know some of the new boys from when I’ve watched the French league like Remy Cabella, Manu Riviere and also Siem de Jong from Ajax. I’ve played against him before so I know what he is capable of. They are good signings for the club and hopefully they are going to do well for us this season.
Tiote's words do not seem that of a player on the verge of leaving his club, but if Arsenal make an aggressive move for him, his view might change.
Manolas is considered a rising talent in European football having represented his club 25 times in the Greek Super League, per WhoScored.com, making four appearances at the recent World Cup.
But the question for Wenger is whether to bring in a specialist centre-back, such as the Greece international, or look for a utility player who can cover several positions and add further depth to the squad.
Both players would certainly strengthen the Emirates team and as a combination will not break the bank. After losing Bacary Sagna—and now Vermaelen—Wenger needs to assess his roster and prepare for the eventuality of injuries and rotation.
Tiote is a fine footballer in the defensive-midfield position and is the kind of player Arsenal lack. Alex Song left the Gunners in 2012 and Wenger has not replaced him. Tiote would go some way to filling that void, especially if Abou Diaby's terrible injury record persists.
Is Cheick Tiote good enough for Arsenal's midfield?
Manolas is an essential signing as Wenger's defence looks light going into the new campaign. Mertesacker and Koscielny are hugely favoured by the Frenchman so it is important to bring in a young central defender who can stay in the team if either losses form or fitness.
New signing Calum Chambers has the ability to fill in centrally too. However, it would be a big ask for the new Southampton recruit to protect the defence if the worst happens. Arsenal need a specialist in this area or they risk throwing their Premier League ambitions away very early in the season.