Premier League • England

Edu ‘contacts’ Barcelona to bring Arteta ‘obsession’ to Arsenal with cheeky cash-plus-player bid made

Raphinha of Barcelona and Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah could be part of a swap deal this summer

Raphinha of Barcelona and Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah

Arsenal are stepping up their recruitment plans with reports claiming Edu has made contact with Barcelona over a deal to sign former Leeds star Raphinha – and with an unwanted Gunners star to be used as the makeweight in a cash-plus-player bid.

The Gunners have made serious strides over the last two years, finishing as runners-up in the Premier League title race on both occasions, but having taken that battle down to the final day of the season last time around. Knowing they need a little more quality in their squad to push Manchester City even further – and also to go even deeper in the Champions League too – Arsenal are keen to add an extra springling of stardust to their squad.

With money at their disposal, TEAMtalk understands that the Gunners are focusing on the signing of a left-sided centre-half, a holding midfielder and potentially two new forwards this summer, with a prolific No 9 and a new winger, to cover Bukayo Saka on their radar. A new goalkeeper to keep David Raya on his toes will also be sought if, as expected, Aaron Ramsdale gets his wish to leave granted.

In terms of a new centre-half, Arsenal are thundering towards the signing of Bologna and Italy star Riccardo Calafiori with a fee of around €50m (£42.3m) and personal terms already agreed. Not everyone, though is happy at the prospective deal judging on the comments of a controversial director of football.

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Not resting on their laurels, Arsenal soon hope to add additional quality to their ranks, with Spain’s Mikel Merino now emerging as the top  choice for Mikel Arteta to partner Declan Rice in midfield.

Arsenal make cash-plus-player bid to sign Raphinha

However, the next Arsenal signing after Calafiori could actually be another Spanish-based player in Barcelona man, Raphinha, as per the latest reports.

The Brazil winger joined the LaLiga giants in summer 2022 in a deal worth up to £58m from Leeds. However, while he has provided 45 goal contributions from 87 matches across his two seasons in Spain (20 goals, 25 assists) – one every 1.9 appearances – Raphinha has not been truly taken into the hearts of those associated with the club.

And with teenage sensation Lamine Yamal operating in the same position, Raphinha has found himself either forced to play out of position or benched in recent times.

As a result, the 26-times capped Brazil international is one player the Catalonians are willing to move on this summer to help ease their financial burden and generate some much-needed transfer funds this summer.

A switch to Saudi Arabia has looked the most likely, though the player himself hardly appears in a rush to move, having yet to appoint a new agent following Deco’s departure from the role in order to take up his position as Barcelona’s sporting director.

However, Arsenal are ready to launch a fresh attempt for his services, with Arteta having done all in his power to first sign the winger two years back when it was clear he was free to leave Leeds.

At the time, Arsenal failed to agree terms with Leeds over a prospective deal but it could be second time lucky for the Gunners.

Arsenal transfers: Barcelona star now Arteta’s top target

Now reports in Spain claim Edu has been in contact with Deco to offer him a cash-plus-player bid, reported to be worth €35m (£30m) plus Eddie Nketiah, whom Arsenal hope to raise £40m by selling this summer.

Whether the combined package is enough to tempt Barca remains to be seen. However, with Barca in the market for another striker option to replace the underwhelming Vitor Roque, the offer of Nketiah could yet tempt them into negotiations.

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Barca rate Raphinha at around the €80m (£67.8m) mark, so Arsenal won’t be too too far away in terms of matching that with Nketiah thrown into the equation.

Per reports in Spain, Arteta ‘has gone from rejecting the possible arrival of the Barca star to becoming obsessed with him, to the point of making him one of his priority targets for the next campaign’.

And their hopes of a deal are lifted by the fact that both new boss Hansi Flick and Deco are willing to say ‘farewell’ to the 27-year-old.

Arsenal have also been linked with the likes of Nico Williams, Kaoru Mitoma, Pedro Neto and Marcus Rashford this summer as they look to add a new dimension to their wings, though it seems Raphinha may have taken presidence if the latest reports are accurate.