Premier League • England

Barcelona fear Arsenal as race hots up to sign sensational Spain midfielder

Harry De Cosemo
Mikel Merino, Spain

Man Utd are hunting Spain ace Mikel Merino

Barcelona are concerned Arsenal will steal a march on them for one of La Liga’s top performers as they target a marquee midfield signing.

Arsenal are looking to strengthen their squad ahead of another Premier League title challenge, having lost out to Manchester City in each of the last two campaigns. They were pipped on the final day in May.

Mikel Arteta has been hunting for a striker, but a midfield partner for Declan Rice is also high on his list, with Thomas Partey said to be likely to leave the club this summer.

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Newcastle midfielder Bruno Guimaraes has been heavily linked with a switch to the Emirates Stadium this summer, and has a reported £100m release clause in his contract. Manchester City are also said to be keen on the Brazilian.

But it is another man who has links to St James’ Park, Real Sociedad’s Mikel Merino, who is catching the eye. Merino, who is currently at Euro 2024 with Spain, has been in fine form for La Real, and could soon be in the middle of a battle for his signature between the Gunners and Barcelona.

Merino headed for Arsenal?

Reports in Spain suggest the Catalan giants are wary of Arsenal’s presence, when it comes to ex-Newcastle man Merino, who played for the club in the 2017-18 season.

But last season, Partey said he wasn’t thinking about leaving the club this summer.

“My head is always here. This is where I choose to play, I’m really happy every time I’m on the field,” Partey stated.

“I know a lot of speculation has been going on, but for me, I’m really happy to be here and to continue playing for this club. With my contract, I still have to the end of the season, I think. I have to do my best and try to perform at the highest level and I think the most important is to be available every time.”

Arteta also added that Partey remains a key part of his squad.

“He better have his head here because we are playing for big things and that’s what we expect,’ the Arsenal head coach said.

“We need him because he’s a top player, a very important player for us and you can see on the pitch as well what kind of impact he can have for us. He’s our player, he’s got one more year’s contract and I’m really happy with him.”

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