Premier League • England

Arsenal hatch plan to swap Arteta signing for Serie A star if blockbuster £51m deal falls through

Ben Stewart

Inter Milan striker Marcus Thuram and Arsenal forward Gabriel Jesus could trade places

Arsenal have identified Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee as their number-one target ahead of the summer, but the club does have a backup plan in place if they aren’t able to sign him.

It’s no secret that the Gunners are going to be in the market for a new number nine in the summer. While Mikel Arteta’s side haven’t exactly struggled for goals this year, their strikers haven’t exactly been firing.

Bukayo Saka has scored the bulk of Arsenal’s goals this season and the likes of Kai Havertz and Leandro Trossard have also chipped in with double figures in the Premier League.

Plenty of striker options have been considered by Arsenal in recent months, but if seems as if the club have landed upon Zirkzee as their primary target.

As per reports from Italy, Arsenal are willing to meet Bologna’s €60m (£51m) asking price for their star striker on the back of an impressive 2023/24 campaign.

The 22-year-old has scored 11 goals and has provided four assists in Serie A this season, averaging a goal contribution every 174 minutes.

While his scoring numbers are by any means outstanding, his other attributes contribute towards him being such a highly sought-after player.

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Arsenal have backup plan in place

Zirkzee is clearly Arsenal’s number one target ahead of the summer, but the club have put a backup plan in place, if they aren’t able to land the 22-year-old.

According to Inter Live, Arsenal could try and sign Inter Milan forward Marcus Thuram, if their plan to sign Zirkzee falls through.

The report claims that Arsenal could offer Gabriel Jesus as part of the deal, along with €30m (£25.7m) in order to sweeten the deal.

Jesus was signed by Arteta in 2022 and while the Brazilian brings a unique skillset to the table, the club seems open to the idea of offloading him in the summer.

Given his injury problems and the excellent form of Havertz of late, Jesus is no longer a guaranteed starter within Arteta’s side.

The Athletic recently claimed that Arsenal would be prepared to listen to offers for the Brazilian forward and with that in mind, a swap deal could potentially be on the cards.

Knee injuries have plagued Jesus for the last few years of his career and with the 27-year-old struggling to capture his best form, the club have been put in a tricky position.

“In my best moment, one of my best moments in my career, I went to a World Cup and ended up getting injured and today I still have these little problems with my knee,” Jesus admitted in an interview last month.

“Even here at Arsenal, there are things that you have to hold on to: go train, play, train today, don’t train, play. In short, it’s difficult, but my desire is always to be available for both Arsenal and the national team.

“It doesn’t matter if, at the end of the season, I have to open up my knee and correct what’s getting in the way and end up missing out on a chance to play in the Copa America. I’m just trying to get fit and help Arsenal as much as I can.”

His contract with the Gunners is valid until 2027, but with another striker likely to join in the summer, he could be pushed further down the pecking order.

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