Barcelona rocked with Arsenal ‘close’ to activating £51m release clause; connected exit expected

Barcelona midfielder Franck Kessie Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi

Arsenal are ‘close’ to triggering the £51m release clause of a Spain international being courted by Barcelona, and any move is likely to see a current star ousted from the Emirates, per reports.

The Gunners spent big once again over the summer in an effort to overhaul Manchester City as the dominant force in England.

David Raya (initial loan), Jurrien Timber, Declan Rice and Kai Havertz all signed up. However, according to reports in Spain, Rice could soon be joined by another major name in midfield.

As cited by Sportskeeda, the Gunners are reportedly ‘close’ to triggering the roughly £51m release clause in Martin Zubimendi’s contract at Real Sociedad.

Zubimendi, 24, has been linked with Arsenal for many a year, though the report claims the upcoming winter window could be when the move finally takes place.

Zubimendi is primarily a holding midfielder and consistently plays the full 90 minutes match after match in season after season at Real Sociedad.

He’s earned a pair of caps for the senior Spanish side since making his debut in 2021 and has also come under the microscope at Barcelona.

Barca boss Xavi in particular is understood to be an admirer of Zubimendi. Xavi’s current No 1 in the holding midfield position is former Southampton star Oreol Romeu who is labelled merely a ‘temporary solution’.

However, the report claims it’s Arsenal who are prepared to activate the release clause in Zubimendi’s contract and thus deprive Barcelona of the player they’ve earmarked as the successor to Sergio Busquets.

The legendary Spaniard brought his near-20 year association with Barca to a close over the summer when joining Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi at Inter Miami.

Zubimendi in, Partey out?

Any Zubimendi move could be contingent on Arsenal offloading Thomas Partey.

The Ghanaian, 30, was heavily linked with a move to either Saudi Arabia or Juventus in recent months. A switch did not come to pass, though the developing situation surrounding Paul Pogba has put a Juventus deal back in the spotlight.

Pogba has been provisionally suspended after failing an anti-doping test. With the Frenchman’s future far from clear, a swoop for Partey could be firmed up.

Arsenal insider Charles Watts recently told TEAMtalk a mid-season Partey exit would make little sense for the Gunners.

However, that situation would change if a direct and younger replacement in the form of Zubimendi were to arrive.

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