Of all the injuries Arsenal are currently battling in their first-team squad, it’s the one to Francis Coquelin that has hit the Gunners hardest.
The French anchorman suffered an MCL ligament injury in the 2-1 defeat with West Brom two weeks ago and is expected to be on the sidelines until February as a result.
With Mikel Arteta, one of Coquelin’s deputies in defensive midfield, also picking up a knock in the same game, it has left Arsene Wenger dreadfully light in personnel at the base of midfield.
Mathieu Flamini is left as the only option to the Gunners for the foreseeable future and the 31-year-old has himself speculated whether he’ll be able to play twice a week while his teammates are out.
The swathe of absences in the heart of the Emirates club’s midfield could well force Wenger’s hand in the January transfer window, as the tactician tries to steer the club’s 12/5-rated Premier League title tilt.
According to the Metro, the Gunners have settled on Porto youngster Ruben Neves as their number one target to bolster the ranks.
Neves, an 18-year-old Portugal international who became the youngest captain in Champions League history earlier this season, has long been linked with a move to Liverpool.
But as Arsenal’s need for a defence-protector has grown to be far bigger than the Reds’, a bid of around £22m is expected to be lodged by the north Londoners in January.
Neves broke into the Dragoes first team last season, making 37 appearances in all competitions.
His profile, one of accomplished passing, mobility and intelligent positioning, would be a good fit for the Gunners and at such a young age, Neves would be able to contribute both right away and for many years to come.
Arsenal will look to bounce back from the disappointment of dropping points against the Baggies and Norwich by beating Sunderland next time out, which Ladbrokes rate a 1/4 possibility.
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