Arsene Wenger is considering a £5 million move for Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Marcelo Brozovic in January after Arsenal scouts returned favourable reports following Croatia's 1-1 draw with Italy on Sunday.
According to the Daily Mirror, the 22-year-old has been identified by the Gunners boss as a value-for-money acquisition when the transfer window reopens at the turn of the year, with a defensive-minded midfield player at the top of the Frenchman's list of priorities.
With Mikel Arteta struggling for fitness and form, and Mathieu Flamini seemingly unable to reach the same heights he did during his previous spell at the Emirates Stadium, Wenger is keen to strengthen an area that has been something of a problem position ever since Patrick Vieira swapped north London for Italy - first with Juventus then Inter Milan - in 2005.
Alex Song was perhaps the most talented replacement, but he left Arsenal to join Barcelona in the summer of 2012, and since the Cameroon international's departure Wenger has failed to fill the void.
The Gunners were linked with a host of different players during the summer, but for whatever reason were unable to secure any of their signatures, meaning they started the 2014/15 campaign light on options in that area of the pitch.
It was surprising to see Wenger turn down the opportunity to re-sign Song when he became available for transfer after the World Cup, having been deemed surplus to requirements at Camp Nou by Luis Enrique.
The African enforcer made abundantly clear his desire to return to the Premier League, and ended up joining West Ham United on a season-long loan deal, while Arsenal struggled on without a holding midfielder.
However, in Brozovic the Gunners hope to have found the answer, providing Wenger can convince the player to join the Gunners ahead of a growing list of other admirers that include AC Milan and a clutch of clubs in Germany.
After starring for his country at the World Cup in Brazil, many people predicted that the talented youngster would leave Stadion Maksimir in his homeland ahead of the new campaign, but Zoran Mamic has managed to maintain the player's services until the mid-season window at least, when it's expected he will complete a high-profile transfer.
Alternatively for Arsenal, Wenger might wish to deploy Jack Wilshere in a deeper midfield role, similar to the one he has occupied for England in recent matches. Roy Hodgson believes that the Gunners star can become one of the world's best in that position, but so far his club manager has tended to disagree.
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