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Seven players Arsenal can still sign

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at realistic transfer targets for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who has two weeks left to improve his squad.

With Arsenal fans still reeling from last weekend's 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa, boss Arsene Wenger must surely strengthen his squad in the next fortnight, or his 17th season at the club could well be his last.

The Gunners looked undermanned and woefully unprepared for the Premier League kickoff last weekend, with injuries to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna exposing their deficiencies for all to see.

Wenger allowed 17 players to leave during the summer transfer window, a clearout of deadwood long overdue as the likes of Marouane Chamakh, Andrey Arshavin and Sebastian Squillaci headed for the exit door.

Arsene Wenger of Arsenal looks on as a fan behind makes his feelings known during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2013© Getty Images

Only Yaya Sanogo has arrived, though, leaving Wenger with just a fortnight to build a squad capable of fighting on multiple fronts, in a summer similar to late swoops for the likes of Mikel Arteta in 2011.

As Wenger faces up to his own version of Supermarket Sweep once again, let's try to give the beleaguered Frenchman a little help by pointing out seven players who add strength in depth to an injury-hit squad.

Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen)

Leverkusen's Lars Bender in action against Schalke on August 13, 2013© Getty Images

A German international just entering the peak years of his career, Bender is a player Wenger has admired for some time. The 24-year-old is assured in possession and not shy of a challenge in central midfield, the kind of player who can break up play and launch the swift counter-attacks Arsenal use regularly to find Theo Walcott. Bender can also play in multiple positions, with games at full-back and on the right-hand side in emergencies for Leverkusen. The sticking point for Wenger in the past has been the price, with a rumoured offer of around £18m turned down earlier this summer. In the current marketplace Bender is worth at least £20m, but for an assured regular for both club and country Wenger could do far worse.

Adrian Lopez (Altetico Madrid)

Here is another former Wenger target who could provide competition for places and quality in the final third. Lopez is a Spanish international who primarily likes to operate on the right-hand side, a position normally reserved for Walcott. With Oxlade-Chamberlain facing a spell on the sidelines Lopez would be a logical addition, a confident passer capable of driving at defences and a very unselfish player. The 25-year-old could find chances at Atletico restricted this season and was left on the bench for their La Liga opener last night. Diego Simeone is not short of options and could be persuaded to part with Lopez, who has been heavily linked with Valencia in recent weeks.

Geoffery Kondogbia (Sevilla)

Sevilla's Geoffrey Kondogbia in action against Atletico Madrid on January 31, 2013© AFP

This is a slightly more optimistic recommendation but a signing that would suit Wenger's profile to a tee. Kondogbia is a tough-tackling central midfielder with talent in abundance. At just 20 years old, the French youngster is a regular starter in La Liga, forging a reputation as a player capable of driving his side forward with runs into the final third. His valuation also soared during the summer as he helped France win the Under-20 World Cup, forming a superb midfield partnership alongside Paul Pobga. Arsenal are often criticised for lacking a physical presence in central midfield; well, here is a long-term solution, but he won't come cheap. Real Madrid are believed to hold an option on the starlet, who could probably be prised away for a fee in excess of £20m.

Adil Rami (Valencia)

Valencia's Adil Rami in action during the match against Malaga on August 17, 2013© Getty Images

A French international defender available for a knock-down fee this summer, Rami is the kind of combative centre-back who relishes a duel with a star striker. Arsenal are desperately short in central defence, with Thomas Vermaelen out. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are Wenger's preferred partnership but need competition to stay in form, which is where Rami comes in. The 27-year-old is strong in the air, capable of playing the ball out of defence and if motivated a worthy acquisition. With Valencia still in financial crisis, a defender with 25 French caps is available far superior to Squillaci, a name that sends shivers down the spines of Gunners fans.

Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio)

Now onto another problem position for Arsenal in recent seasons: goalkeeper. The Gunners surely have to give Wojciech Szczesny a serious fight for the number one shirt this season after the Pole's performances trailed off badly last season. With Julio Cesar proving difficult to land, the consistent Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa could be a reliable short-term solution. Ochoa is widely considered to be a candidate for Ligue 1's best goalkeeper, matching superb shot-stopping with impressive concentration and effective distribution. The 28-year-old's contract expires next summer, meaning that unfashionable Ajaccio could be willing to do a deal on the cheap.

Lass Diarra (Anzhi Makhachkala)

Here is a player Wenger knows all about that promises quality, experience and composure in midfield. Diarra briefly looked to be another astute Wenger capture in 2007, but quickly grew frustrated at a lack of first-term appearances, with Mathieu Flamini preferred in the middle. The Frenchman moved onto Portsmouth and just a year later was a regular starter in Real Madrid, proving his worth in La Liga with an eye for a pass and an ability to snuff out danger with swift interceptions. Diarra is also comfortable in possession and capable of dribbling out of trouble in congested areas. With Anzhi now looking to sell their foreign contingent, Wenger could do a lot worse than call on a former signing, who could be available at a reduced price. At 28 Diarra is still capable of starting in the Premier League for at least three seasons and is proven to work well in a midfield three.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Wayne Rooney of England gestures during the International Friendly match between England and Scotland at Wembley Stadium on August 14, 2013© Getty Images

Finally here is the marquee signing proven at the highest level that would appease worried Gunners fans. Rooney ticks every box in the final third, becoming United's fourth highest all-time goalscorer while providing so much more than just his outlay in front of goal. United boss David Moyes has been adamant that Rooney is not for sale, but that's just with Chelsea in the picture. Moyes may be willing to business with a side not viewed as a direct title rival right now, which leaves the small matter of persuading Rooney his future lies in North London. Wenger would need to be at his sharpest here, appealing to Rooney's ego and promising to build a side around the frustrated England international. At his motivated, driven best, Rooney is nothing short of a world beater, the kind of world-class operator Arsenal fans want to galvanise the squad and justify the highest ticket prices in the country.

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Cup on August 3, 2013
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