By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Arsenal have made an enquiry for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi in a bid to strengthen their midfield ahead of Friday's transfer deadline, Goal can reveal.
It is understood that the Gunners told PSG on Wednesday that they are willing to pay a significant fee for the France international, who can leave on a free when his contract expires at the end of the season.
French sources have told Goal that the wealthy Qatari-owned club have not yet rebuffed Arsenal's strong interest in the combative 26-year-old midfielder despite club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi warning Manchester City about approaching the player after they were linked with a move for him.
Goal revealed earlier on Wednesday that Arsene Wenger is in the market for a midfield operator as he deals with a growing crisis in the central area of his team.
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Matuidi has improved massively since last year. He is now a bigger physical presence and there is still room for further improvement. With Yohan Cabaye's imminent transfer to PSG, Matuidi could certainly leave Paris as the competition for places intensifies.
The club's mega-rich owners want to recruit a big-name midfield target like Paul Pogba in the summer so that, coupled with the arrival of Cabaye and with Marco Verratti also competing for a place, means that the door is open for Matuidi to leave.
With Mikel Arteta the last central midfielder still standing, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to move in from the flanks and fill in during Sunday's league match against Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium.
However, Wenger is investigating the possibility of getting Matuidi before the window shuts on Friday, as he tries to take advantage of the midfielder's contract status. Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin is also in the frame as a backup midfield option for the Gunners.
PSG have finalised a deal with Newcastle for Yohan Cabaye and could be amenable to offloading Matuidi rather than lose him for nothing.
Arsenal are hoping to sign two new players before the window shuts on Friday night. As revealed by Goal, a club delegation has been in Germany to negotiate deals for Schalke sensation Julian Draxler and Frankfurt right-back Sebastian Jung.
The Gunners are still hopeful of brokering a deal for Draxler in January, while they are putting in the groundwork for a Jung deal this summer should contract rebel Bacary Sagna not sign new terms.
There is likely to be some frenzied activity at the Emirates Stadium in the coming days as Wenger tries to maintain his team's title challenge.
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The 23-year-old broke down during a training drill on Monday when he aggravated a tendon under his thigh muscle. He was immediately sent for a scan, which revealed on Tuesday that he is expected to be sidelined for between four and six weeks.
Wenger later confirmed the bad news, although he refused to give a timeline on the player's return. "Ramsey is out for longer than we expected," the Gunners boss told the press after the Southampton match. "He had a little setback in training, it's the same muscle. I hope it's not for too long but certainly not [available] for Sunday's game."
Ramsey had already been out since suffering a grade-two thigh strain in Arsenal's Boxing Day win over West Ham.