Arsene Wenger has told Arsenal scouts to keep a close eye on Germany midfielder Christoph Kramer as the January transfer window approaches, reports Goal.
The Gunners boss is looking to strengthen the defensive midfield position and is hoping to take advantage of Kramer's uncertain future at Bayer Leverkusen. The 23-year-old publicly lamented his situation at the club recently and has threatened to quit.
Kramer came through the youth system at Leverkusen but has never made a senior appearance for the club, instead spending four consecutive seasons on loan at VfL Bochum and Borussia Monchengladbach.
The 23-year-old caught the eye of Arsenal scouts 12 months ago and they have continued to track his progress. In that time, the defensive midfielder has risen to prominence and featured prominently in Germany's successful World Cup campaign. Joachim Low started Kramer in the final, but he was forced off with concussion in the first half.
He still left the competition with a winner's medal and a much-enhanced reputation across Europe. He is now valued at £12 million by his club, which would represent a smaller outlay that Wenger's alternative targets.
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Arsenal had looked to sign two defensive midfielder in the summer, according to reports. Sami Khedira would not budge on his £200,000-a-week wage demands and Sporting Lisbon rejected a late £21.3 million for William Carvalho.
Wenger's war chest now has as little as £20 million in it for January transfers and the Frenchman will also need to sign a centre-back to cover for Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. Kramer has experience playing in both midfield and defensive, meaning he is a convenient option for Arsenal.
Wenger will have the be aware of interest from other Premier League clubs should he decide to move for Kramer. Both Liverpool and Manchester United have been linked with a move in the recent past with both having bids rejected in the summer.
Louis van Gaal went on to sign a very similar player in Daley Blind, suggesting interest from Old Trafford has waned. However, Brendan Rodgers has been struggling for defensive stability so far this season and looks more likely to reignite his interest.
Kramer is under contract with Leverkusen until 2017, but he recently spoke of his discontent for that deal and insisted he would refuse to honour it.
"In general, being involved in the football business is often like modern human trafficking," he said in August. "But for me, a contract can say whatever it wants. If I don't want to play somewhere next season, I won't play there. In the end, I will still decide where I play."