An Arsenal move for a player both they and Newcastle were sizing up in January has revealed his admiration of Mikel Arteta, while his club’s chief admitted a deal can be made.
The January window saw Arteta and sporting director Edu strengthen a number of key positions. Jakub Kiwior arrived to provide cover at left centre-back for Gabriel Magalhaes. Elsewhere, Jorginho shored up the engine room, while Leandro Trossard added another explosive option in the final third.
However, one position in which Arsenal actually weakened themselves was right-back.
The Gunners gave the greenlight to Cedric Soares joining Fulham on loan. A move for Ivan Fresneda of Real Valladolid was touted to fill the void, though an offer was never lodged.
Arteta may well be looking back on that missed opportunity with a hint of regret. Indeed, the Gunners have not looked the same without William Saliba at centre-half after the Frenchman picked up a back injury one month ago.
Ben White would ordinarily revert to his old position of centre-back in Saliba’s absence. However, he’s needed to continue at right-back with Takehiro Tomiyasu out injured.
Had Fresneda been signed, he could’ve plugged the gap at right-back and allowed White to feature alongside Gabriel instead of Rob Holding.
In any case, according to the Athletic, Arsenal may complet their unfinished business for Fresneda six months on.
The outlet report Arsenal as well as Borussia Dortmund are both interested in signing Fresneda this summer. Newcastle also get a mention, though the Magpies already signed a young right-back in the latter stages of the winter window in the form of Harrison Ashby.
The Athletic interviewed the 18-year-old Fresneda who admitted he’s a huge fan of the work Mikel Arteta is doing at the Emirates.
His response came when asked if the manner in which Valladolid plays is similar to that implemented by Arteta in north London.
Arteta labelled “fabulous” by Fresneda
“I like Arteta a lot because I think he’s a great coach,” said Fresneda. “I follow the European leagues and I think the work he’s doing with his club is fantastic.
“But now with [Valladolid manager] Paulo Pezzolano and before with [former boss] Pacheta we do that style of play, and that style is the one I like the most.”
The style of play referenced was pressing high, heavy on possession and forward-thinking. On the surface, Fresneda’s spell at Valladolid may well be the perfect stepping stone to Arsenal.
Fresneda’s current contract contains a release clause worth €30m (approx. £27m). However, a deal for a more modest €20m (approx. £17.7m) can reportedly be struck.
Valladolid’s sporting director, Fran Sanchez, was also interviewed by the Athletic.
Sanchez admitted his club would be willing to accept an offer for Fresneda – providing “it is the best for all parties”. In other words, Valladolid want what they believe Fresneda is worth and not a euro less.
“We are delighted with [Fresneda] and we want him to continue; we want to grow and we are aware that one of the options we have is to sell players,” said Sanchez.
“If an offer arrives, we will evaluate it and accept it if it is the best for all parties. But we are not going to sell players below the level that their potential indicates.”