Premier League • England

Arsenal chiefs complete dossiers on five stars to replace regular starter – report

Arsenal chief Edu with a smiling Mikel Arteta

Arsenal officials have completed reports on five potential midfield signings to replace Granit Xhaka, according to one source.

Xhaka has made 21 appearances in all competitions this season. He was named in the starting eleven against Crystal Palace on Monday, where Arsenal were shocked 3-0 at Selhurst Park.

CaughtOffside claim Arsenal want a high-quality, all-round midfielder to take Xhaka’s place in the team.

With this in mind, scouts have done dossiers on five targets – four of which come from the Premier League.

The first is Leeds United and England star Kalvin Phillips. He is a target for Aston Villa and Newcastle, but Arsenal are also in the mix.

It will cost upwards of £50million to land Phillips from his boyhood club. A transfer could be made even harder if the enforcer pens a new contract at Elland Road.

Arsenal could capitalise on Gerrard decision

Steven Gerrard wants a new defensive midfielder at Villa, as shown by his interest in Phillips. And that could force a current option out of the west Midlands.

Arsenal are also monitoring the situation of Villa star Douglas Luiz. Reports suggest he is disgruntled with having to play so deep, and that could allow Arsenal to pounce.

Mikel Arteta wants his new midfielder to operate alongside Thomas Partey. That would allow Luiz to roam further forward than he does currently.

Wolves ace Ruben Neves has also been watched by Gunners representatives in recent weeks. He is a slightly cheaper option than Phillips, at £40m, and could be a solid addition at the Emirates.

However, Neves already has a slightly fractured relationship with Arsenal. That’s because he criticised their wild celebrations following a 2-1 victory in February.

Ruben Neves, Wolves midfielder during the Premier League game against West Ham at the London Stadium

The only transfer target not currently operating in the Premier League is Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz.

Arsenal have been keeping tabs on his performances for some time, but now face intense competition for his signature.

According to Football Italia, Ruiz wants to run down his Napoli contract and join Real Madrid as a free agent in 2023.

The playmaker could end up at Liverpool or PSG too, making an Arsenal move less likely.

Finally, Arsenal are rivalling plenty of other clubs for Leicester’s Youri Tielemans. Like Ruiz, his terms expire in 2023 and that means a transfer could occur this year.

Tielemans’ price tag continues to drop as his contract runs down. He was once worth £60m, but now it may take just a £25m bid for the Gunners to land the Belgian.

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