Arsene Wenger wants to complete his January overhaul at Arsenal with a top midfielder and rather than waiting until the summer for Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin, the French boss is considering a move for Cheick Tiote in the current transfer window, according to reports.
The Gunners spent around £80m to sign Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina, Calum Chambers and Danny Welbeck during last summer's transfer window.
However, the Arsenal boss failed to secure both a much-needed holding midfielder and versatile defender to fill the gap left by Thomas Vermaelen's move to Barcelona.
Wenger looks to have found the solution to his defensive problems in Villarreal defender Gabriel Paulista – the Brazilian star is expected to complete his move to the Emirates Stadium imminently – while he has also signed 17-year-old Krystian Bielik to bolster the midfield.
Even though Francis Coquelin has impressed in the holding role since his return from Charlton Athletic while covering for Mikel Arteta's absence, The Telegraph reports the Gunners are still in the hunt for a world-class central midfielder.
In this sense, reports claim Schneiderlin is Wenger's main candidate for the role but with the Southampton star unlikely to leave Ronald Koeman's side until the end of the season, Arsenal are considering the signing of Newcastle United midfielder Tiote during the current window.
The Telegraph understands that French boss would prefer to wait until the end of the season rather than buy a lesser player now.
However, Wenger is aware he may face stiff competition from both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United for Schneiderlin, while the Newcastle star could be a more affordable choice.
Earlier this season, Tiote revealed he was likely to move to the Emirates Stadium at some point after he had talks with the Gunners last summer regarding a move to the north London club.
In October, he said: "It is true there were contacts for me from Arsenal and a club in Russia. I'd prefer to stay in England."