Arsenal target late midfielder swoop after Ramsey & Wilshere blows

Arsene Wenger is hoping to add a box-to-box operator in the final days of the window, due to Ramsey being out for up to six weeks and Jack Wilshere’s long-standing ankle problems

By Wayne Veysey

Arsenal are targeting a central midfield signing in the final days of the window after being rocked by Aaron Ramsey’s injury blow.

Arsene Wenger is in the market for a midfield operator who can protect the defence and link with the team’s attacking players.

The Frenchman played down the severity of Ramsey’s new thigh injury in the immediate aftermath of Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at Southampton on Tuesday but Goal understands the Welshman will be out for up to another six weeks.

There are also growing doubts about Jack Wilshere’s recovery from his latest ankle problem after he saw a specialist in London on Tuesday. The England international has been ruled out of Arsenal’s league match against Crystal Palace on Sunday and is also now rated doubtful for the crunch clash against Liverpool six days later.

With Mathieu Flamini expected to receive a four-match ban for the two-footed lunge that earned him a red card against Southampton and Mikel Arteta feeling regular pain his calves, there is a growing midfield crisis at the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger’s targets could include Paris Saint-Germain’s Blaise Matuidi and Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin, who has been closely tracked by the Gunners’ scouting team over the last 18 months.

Arsenal are hoping to sign two new players before the window shuts on Friday night. As revealed by Goal, a club delegation is in Germany to negotiate deals for Schalke sensation Julian Draxler and Frankfurt right-back Sebastian Jung.

The Gunners are still hopeful of brokering a deal for Draxler this week, while they are laying the groundwork for a Jung deal this summer should contract rebel Bacary Sagna not sign a new agreement.

There is likely to be some frenzied activity at the Emirates in the coming days as Wenger attempts to maintain his team’s title challenge.

Ramsey’s injury is an especially severe blow to Arsenal’s hopes of winning the title and progressing beyond the last-16 stage of the Champions League. They face Bayern Munich in the first leg on February 19 at the end of a demanding 11-day run of fixtures in which they play Manchester United and Liverpool twice.

The 23-year-old broke down during a training drill on Monday when he aggravated a tendon under his thigh muscle. He was immediately sent for a scan, which revealed on Tuesday that he is expected to be sidelined for between four and six weeks.

Wenger later confirmed the bad news, although he refused to give a timeline on the player’s return. “Ramsey is out for longer than we expected,” Wenger said after the Southampton match. “He had a little setback in training, it’s the same muscle. I hope it’s not for too long but certainly not [available] for Sunday’s game.”

Ramsey had already been out since suffering a grade two thigh strain in Arsenal’s Boxing Day win over West Ham.

He had been Arsenal’s outstanding contributor in the first half of the season, scoring 13 goals in 26 Premier League and Champions League matches.

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