Abou Diaby is out for the season and probably most of next, so who do Arsenal need to replace him?
The news Abou Diaby would be out with a cruciate ligament injury, while not entirely unpredictable, still came like a hammer blow to Arsenal.
It was devastating news for the player, whose career has been beset by injury problems, and for the club in the short-term in could be damaging in their quest to finish in the top four.
What it does mean is that the Gunners now know they simply have to replace him. No sitting there hoping he stays fit, he is quite simply out for the foreseeable future and the club need to sign a replacement.
Here are a look at five players Arsenal may look at signing to replace him in the centre of midfield...
Capoue is regarded as the most likely of any player to make the switch to Arsenal, with the defensive midfielder linked with them repeatedly over the past year. He plays for Toulouse in Ligue One and is more of a defensive minded player than Diaby, but he could be just what the club need to free Arteta up to be more creative. Everton are also interested so the Gunners will have to make sure they do not lose out as they did with Moussa Sissoko when he was snapped up by Newcastle.
With QPR destined for relegation, there is likely to be a summer firesale at Loftus Road and Mbia could be the best bargain of the lot. The central midfielder can drive forward in a similar way to Diaby and is a good tackler of the ball. The summer signing from Marseille could cost under £5 million and is too good to play in the Championship. He is also adaptable to play in central defence which could be very useful for Arsenal.
Arsenal were linked with signing Diame in January, and while there are more exciting midfielders out there, a clause in his contract which means he could be purchased for as little as £3.5 million makes him very tempting for Arsenal. Diame has impressed at West Ham this summer and is thought to be keen on a move, and could be an option if the Gunners spend big money on a striker.
Sevilla midfielder Kondogbia has been described as the 'next Yaya Toure' and is interesting Manchester City. The French under-21 star is only 20 and is touted as a future full international for Les Bleus. With City's interest, Arsenal will have to act quickly, but they could potentially offer him greater first team opportunities than he would receive at the Etihad, and having signed Cazorla and Monreal from La Liga in recent transfer windows, Arsenal's scouts will be well aware of him, but he could cost around £10 million.
Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons became a popular man with Arsenal fans when he scored in the Europa League past Spurs last month, and there were said to be Arsenal scouts watching him during the fixture. Gonalons is 24 and again like Capoue and Diame more defensive minded than Diaby, but will certainly fill a void at the Emirates. A France international he is said to be keen on a switch if it materialised and is likely to be on Arsenal's shortlist.
Would you like to see any of these at Arsenal?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald