Arsenal are poised to complete the signing of 17-year-old Polish midfielder Krystian Bielik after captain Mikel Arteta and defender Mathieu Debuchy were both ruled out for three months.
Bielik is expected to fly to London today for a medical, after his club Legia Warsaw confirmed the Gunners had seen off rival interest from Hamburg with a deal worth around £2.5m.
The youngster is tipped to go straight into the first-team squad despite having made just six senior appearances and only turning 17 earlier this month, such is Arsenal’s dearth of options.
“I’m going to London to make dreams come true,” Bielik said on the official website of the Polish champions. “I hope I will soon officially be an Arsenal player.”
Defensive midfielder Bielik offers Arsenal cover in a position they have struggled to satisfactorily fill since the departure of skipper Patrick Vieira almost a decade ago.
Arteta, 32, is the latest to occupy the role but has been increasingly beset by injuries and will now be out until at least mid-April after undergoing surgery on his left ankle.
The Spanish former Everton midfielder could find his place under threat when he returns, as he turns 33 in March, while Frenchman Francis Coquelin has proved a useful deputy in recent weeks.
“He had a limited mobility in his ankle and some persistent inflammation that had an impact on his calf,” said manager Arsene Wenger. “That meant we had to make the decision to have surgery and it’s a proper solution which gives him the best chance to recover.”
Debuchy, another of the club’s senior first-team regulars, is also out of contention until the last few weeks of the season having too been sent for surgery this week.
The right-back, who has also covered at centre-half this term, suffered a dislocated shoulder when he landed awkwardly after being shoved by Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic on Sunday.
“It’s very unfortunate for Mathieu,” Wenger added. “It’s unbelievable because he’s had two surgeries in the same season. I count three months out for Mathieu because contact will be a problem for the shoulder.”
Yesterday’s twin setbacks underline Wenger’s need for reinforcements in midfield and defence, and Bielik could be followed by further arrivals during the current transfer window. Wenger has also been linked with Dinamo Zagreb’s Croatia midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, as well as a host of defenders including Espanyol’s Hector Moreno and Ipswich youngster Tyrone Mings.
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■ Mikel Arteta: Midfielder out until mid-April after having ankle surgery
■ Mathieu Debuchy: Ruled out for three months after shoulder operation