Arsenal are set to step up their interest in Afriyie Acquah – a midfielder dubbed the ‘new Michael Essien’.

A report from The Express claims Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is set to send scouts to the Africa Cup of Nations to watch the Ghana international, with a view to making an offer.

Acqua is a powerful midfield presence and the report claims Wenger is looking to bolster the defensive midfield area in the Arsenal squad, with the 20-year-old seen as good prospect.

Acqua is currently with Serie A side Palermo, but has been sent out on loan to Parma for the 2012-13 season.

His playing style and nationality lead to comparisons with Chelsea star Michael Essien, one of Ghana’s most prominent stars, and Arsenal were also linked with a move for the midfielder in the summer.

The report claims Wenger is considering his options for January, as any deal for Acqua would likely not see him arrive at Emirates Stadium until mid-February, after the completion of the Cup of Nations.

Ghana are one of the favourites to take the trophy, so are expected to be in South Africa for much of the duration of the tournament.

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