Sunday, April 9, 2023

GOOD MOVE: Arsenal plotting summer move for 'next Luka Modric'?

Arsenal are reportedly weighing up a summer move for Dinamo Zagreb and Croatia midfield starlet Martin Baturina, who has earned comparisons with Luka Modric.

The 20-year-old has already established himself as a regular starter for the Croatian giants and has racked up an impressive set of contributions in the current campaign.

Baturina has five goals and seven assists under his belt from 26 top-flight matches this season, as Dinamo Zagreb sit nine points clear at the top of the table.

The 2003-born lynchpin also played five times in the Champions League during Zagreb’s short-lived run in the group stage, taking his total for the club to seven goals and 12 assists from 60 outings in all tournaments.

Baturina is yet to be capped by Croatia at senior level, but he has made eight appearances for his country’s Under-21 side and is being tipped for a bright future in European football.

Dinamo Zagreb are under no pressure to sell Baturina, who is under contract for another four years, but their resolve is expected to be tested in the upcoming window.

According to The Gooner, Arsenal have been keeping a close eye on the 20-year-old, who has been given the seal of approval by Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.

The Spaniard supposedly views Baturina as an ideal acquisition to provide cover and competition for Granit Xhaka, who has also excelled higher up the pitch during the 2022-23 season.

Scouts were said to have been left particularly impressed with the midfielder’s performance against Hajduk Split in February, where he scored and provided an assist in a 4-0 thrashing.

While primarily operating as a number 10, Baturina can also be deployed in a deeper midfield role or on either wing, making him an attractive prospect for Arteta due to his versatility.

Despite his contract situation, Dinamo Zagreb would reportedly be willing to accept a modest fee of £15m for Baturina, which Arsenal would have no issue forking out.

A new midfielder is expected to be priority number one for the Gunners this season, in spite of the club signing Jorginho in January and tying Mohamed Elneny down to a one-year extension until the end of next season.

By the end of June, though, all of Xhaka, Jorginho, Elneny and Thomas Partey will be in their 30s, so the Gunners will be after an injection of youth into the heart of their engine room.

West Ham United’s Declan Rice is believed to be Arsenal’s number one target to reinforce the midfield, with the Hammers resigned to losing their captain at the end of the season before his deal expires in 2024.

The Premier League leaders are thought to be confident of winning the race to sign Rice, but the likes of Djibril Sow, Romeo Lavia, Youri Tielemans and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic have been mentioned as possible alternatives.

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