FLAMINI GONE, GILBERTO GOING: DO WE NEED TO MAKE DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD A PRIORITY?

The Sun is reporting that Brazilian skipper Gilberto has agreed to join Greek club Panathinaikos for a nominal fee of about £1 million.

The story, if true, means that the 31-year-old - Arsenal's most experienced player - will bid farewell to north London after six years at the club and will leave many Gooners wondering exectly who will take up the defensive midfield role next season given that Mathieu Flamini has also departed.

The Sun claim Arsenal's acting managing director Ken Friar has confirmed the deal.

 "We have agreed to the transfer and signed the papers. It is now an official agreement," the newspaper quoted Friar as saying. "We had other offers but we respected Gilberto's desire to sign for Panathinaikos."

So who will take up the vital defensive midfield role? 

Wenger has often spoken of the need for older players to move on so that younger players can get their chance, so within the current squad, Arsene has options such as Abou Diaby, Denilson, Alexandre Song and new signing Aaron Ramsey to choose from. There have also been hints that Kolo Toure could make a move to midfield. But ideally there should be a minimum of two strong players who can compete for the Flamini/Gilberto role and in my opinion Arsenal don't really have that luxury at the moment.

So my solution would be to sign a new player - someone who has many years ahead of him, but who also has the experience to slot straight in to do the job. Gareth Barry is a name that is being bandied around freely at the moment, but while I think the 27-year-old Aston Villa captain would do a good job for the Gunners, at £20 million, he's far too expensive for Wenger.

My personal choice would be Yaya Toure. He's already expressed a desire to play alongside his big brother Kolo, he's an experienced international, he's only 25 and he'd potentially come at a good price if Wenger could negotiate with Barcelona into including Yaya as part of an exchange deal for Alex Hleb.

Another potential would be German international Torsten Frings, who was one of the most impressive players during this summer's Euro 2008 tournament, but at 31-years-old he's a bit over the hill.

The frustrating thing is that had Arsenal retained the services of Lassana Diarra, he'd find himself in contention for a first team start now, but there's no point crying over spilled milk.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on the gaping midfield vacany? Should we rely on the existing players at the club and promote one of the youth players, such as Henri Lansbury, Jack Wilshere, Fran Merida or James Dunne, to be a back up? Or should Arsene Wenger get his cheque book out and bring some new talent to the club? Share your thoughts using our comments section below.