MANAGER Arsene Wenger believes Mathieu Flamini is the perfect fit for Arsenal but admits his depleted squad is still in need of more quality additions ahead of the transfer deadline, with German forward Lukas Podolski the latest to be sidelined by injury.
France international Flamini (29) left the Emirates Stadium in 2008 to join AC Milan when his contract expired, but was released by the Italian side and yesterday was confirmed as Arsenal's second signing having trained at the club earlier this month.
Wenger, though, is still short on numbers, with Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both also set for a long period of rehabilitation as well as Podolski, who pulled up during the 2-0 Champions League play-off win over Fenerbahce in midweek.
Despite bids for Gonzalo Higuain, Luis Suarez and Yohan Cabaye, so far France Under-21 forward Yaya Sanogo was the only other confirmed new recruit – and, like Flamini, also joined on a free transfer.
Arsenal continue to be linked with the likes of Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria at Real Madrid, along with Juventus forward Fabio Quagliarella, Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata and St Etienne defensive midfielder Joshua Guilavogui.
Wenger is not about to call off the search goes on for new talent, which could well resemble a last-minute trolley dash as the September 2 deadline looms ever closer.
"When you think that we lost three players of the stature of (Mikel) Arteta, (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski for three months basically before the season really starts, it's very hard to take. We are in a position where you want some more players," the Arsenal manager said.
Given Arsenal's injury problems, Flamini could go straight into the squad for the north London derby against Tottenham.
Wenger believes the versatile Frenchman – who was deployed at left-back in the 2006 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in Paris – is more of a complete player now then when he left five seasons ago.
"The best years are in front of him (Flamini) now – the next three years. Physically, he is perfect. He was tested, prepared and he is physically in fantastic shape," Wenger said.
"He knows how we play football, knows the club and had a huge desire to come back.
"He was available because he was out of contract and he is a quality player, and a focused player, so those were all the reasons that pushed me to make that decision."
However, Podolski will be out until toward the end of the year, Arsenal confirmed yesterday.
The Germany international, who scored twice in the 3-1 Premier League win at Fulham last weekend, hobbled off against Fenerbahce on Tuesday night as the Gunners progressed to the Champions League group stage, where they will face Marseille, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli.
Tests have revealed Podolski is now set for a prolonged spell of rehabilitation, between eight and 10 weeks.
"It is very disappointing and we have paid a very heavy price for that win [over Fenerbahce]. We have to be patient now," Wenger said.
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who scored twice against the Turks, but finished the match on the bench with a groin problem after Arsenal had used all three substitutes, and Jack Wilshere are both expected to feature again this weekend.