By Wayne Veysey
Arsenal are keeping close tabs on Germany midfielder Christoph Kramer ahead of the January window, Goal can reveal.
The Gunners have sent scouts to regularly watch the Bayer Leverkusen player, who is in the second season of a two-year loan at Borussia Monchengladbach.
Arsenal are in the market for a midfield anchorman after failing in a deadline-day bid to land William Carvalho from Sporting Lisbon in the summer window.
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Christoph Kramer is now in his second season on loan at Gladbach and has publicly stated that he'd rather stay at Gladbach than return to Leverkusen. He will return after the current season and Bayer are more than happy to take him back.
But Kramer is not so pleased by the prospect of a return. Leverkusen released him when he was 16 before bringing him back from Fortuna Dusseldorf in 2008 and he is yet to play a single minute of first team football at his parent club.
Kramer's situation is complicated. Prior to his spell with Monchengladbach he was sent on loan to Bochum and he does not give the impression that he is keen on a future with Leverkusen. This could be Arsenal's chance to step in and convince Bayer to sell.
Kramer, who is rated at around £12m, is contracted to Leverkusen until 2017 and is due to return to the club at the end of the season, but his future is shrouded in doubt.
The 23-year-old has not played a single minute for Leverkusen's first team after being loaned out for four consecutive campaigns and has said publicly he would rather stay at Monchengladbach and will not allow his future to be decided by Bayer.
"In general, being involved in the football business is often like modern human trafficking," he said. "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."
Arsenal's scouts have been impressed by Kramer's progress over the last 12 months, having scouted him frequently last season and over the current campaign.
The midfielder was a member of Germany's World Cup-winning squad and started the final victory against Argentina before being substituted with concussion in the first half.
Kramer has played nine league games for Monchengladbach so far this season, scoring in the season-opening 1-1 draw with Stuttgart.
Arsenal's current defensive midfielders, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, are both out of contract at the end of the season.
Arteta, who is in talks with the club about extending his deal, and Flamini started the back-to-back victories over Sunderland and Burnley over the last two weekends but are both approaching the latter stages of their careers. Fellow midfielders Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey are regarded as more attacking players.