Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Mikel Arteta set for scouting mission to decide Arsenal's fourth signing after key announcement

With 37 days remaining until the summer transfer window closes, Arsenal have more than enough time to bring in another signing or perhaps two.

Having spent over £200million already to recruit Kai Havertz, Jurrien Timber and Declan Rice, understandably the Gunners’ focus at the moment is player sales as Mikel Arteta has confirmed he expects the club to be busy: “There will be movement still. There will be a lot of ins and outs,” he told reporters last week.

“It’s still very early. Obviously, the last week has been a bit quiet. If we can try and improve the team we’ll do so. But we don’t want to get any weaker so we have to be sure of that as well.”

In terms of Arsenal senior players who could leave, Cedric Soares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Folarin Balogun, Runar Alex Runarsson, Nuno Tavares, Nicolas Pepe, Auston Trusty and Arthur Okonkwo all realistically fall into this particular category whilst another loan might be on the cards for Marquinhos.

Taking a look at potential incomings and one name who has been heavily linked in recent weeks is Ajax star Mohammed Kudus who as a right-winger predominately would provide cover and competition for Bukayo Saka. However, it would appear that the Ghana international is Chelsea-bound which throws a spanner into such plans.

As a result, Arteta and Gunners sporting director Edu Gaspar may have to look at alternatives and it just so happens that a potential scouting opportunity has risen with the north London outfit facing Barcelona in a pre-season friendly in Los Angeles on Thursday morning (UK time).

Admittedly the ship has long since sailed on the idea of Ousmane Dembele ever making a switch to the Emirates Stadium, but there are three Barca wide players in Raphinha, Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati who have been linked with a move to Arsenal in the past 12 months alone and are in contention to feature Stateside.

Of the trio, the Brazil international was closest to joining last summer but as explained by Edu, he was always set on a move to the Camp Nou: “People think we went in too deep about Raphinha because Raphinha was everywhere. It’s fair we did have some conversations with Deco because Deco is his agent, and I have a good relationship [with him] – we are friends,” the Arsenal chief told Sky Sports.

“I just said to Deco, ‘Can you explain to me the situation with Raphinha?’ and he was clear. ‘Edu, we have a good relationship, but I’m not going to lie to you, his idea is to go to Barcelona because he’s dreaming of going to Barcelona, and we’ve been talking to Barcelona since a long time ago.’

“Okay, thank you very much. If something happens, then just let me know because I can explore and understand the situation. If not, no problem, and we carry on with our relationship.”

Despite being a Barcelona player for just a year, there has been talk of Raphinha moving on this summer and perhaps a good showing in front of Arteta will convince the Arsenal manager to revisit a potential transfer or it could be that Torres or Fati catches his eye at the SoFi Stadium.

Once upon a time, Frenkie De Jong may have been on the radar too as the Netherlands international previously revealed he had envisaged playing for the Gunners before moving on to Barcelona and one supporter proposed an ambitious swap deal in January involving Lokonga which, of course, didn’t come to fruition.

But having taken the direct route from Ajax to Spain and recently named as one of four club captains, the 26-year-old is likely to be out of Arsenal’s reach in any scenario especially as the need for midfield reinforcements has lessened with Arteta confirming Thomas Partey will be staying put.

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