Premier League • England

Edu in dreamland as Arsenal get agent’s clearance to seal monumental signing for significant discount

Edu Gaspar is reportedly keen to bring Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee to Arsenal this summer

Edu Gaspar is reportedly keen to bring Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee to Arsenal this summer

Arsenal are hurtling towards the signing of Joshua Zirkzee this summer after it was revealed that the cost to bring him to north London will be significantly lower than expected – and following a special connection Edu shares with the player’s agent.

The Gunners will find out on Sunday if they will become Premier League champions after a long 20-year wait, or if their quest will once again come up just short for the second season in a row. Given Manchester City have shown no let-up in recent weeks and are chasing what will be a Double Double, it would be quite the turn-up if Pep Guardiola’s side did let things slip at home to West Ham.

Nonetheless, Arsenal can feel proud of the progress they have made this season, with Mikel Arteta’s side pushing the Cityzens all the way and also showing their qualities in Europe by reaching the last eight of the Champions League. The strides they have made in the last couple of seasons are there for all to see – and it already seems Arteta and Co have plans to further improve next season.

To that end, the Arsenal sporting director Edu has set his sights on three quality additions this summer to further close that gap on City and the other top sides around Europe, with a new left-back, midfielder and striker very much on their radar.

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A new No 9 is certainly an addition may observers feel Arsenal need. While the Gunners are second top scorers this season with 89 goals from their 37 games so far, they have lacked a clinical centre forward with Gabriel Jesus (eight goals in 35 games) and Eddie Nketiah (six goals in 37) both outscored by several other Arsenal stars.

Arsenal learn of huge drop in Joshua Zirkzee price

With that in mind, the Gunners have looked into the signing of a range of different stars, with Victor Osimhem, Viktor Gyokeres and Alexander Isak among the players they have watched closely.

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However, the man we understand to be at the top of their wishlist and a player for whom appears to tick the Arsenal mould is Bologna frontman Zirkzee.

The Netherlands striker, while not the most prolific option linked with the Gunners, has enjoyed an excellent season under Thiago Motta’s side, who are currently third in the Serie A table and guaranteed a place in next season’s Champions League.

Understandably, interest in their top talents, including Motta himself who is wanted by Juventus and has been offered a three-year deal by the Italian giants, has gathered pace on the back of their remarkable rise.

And with Zirkzee‘s form making him their star attraction, it is widely expected that a huge offer will come their way for the 22-year-old this summer.

With 12 goals and four assists from 37 appearances this season, the forward has contributed towards a goal every 2.3 matches this season and his chances of remaining at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara beyond this summer are slim at best.

However, it was always felt that the Serie A side were protected by the lack of an exit clause that existed in his deal, meaning they could effectively demand what they liked for the player and amid claims he is valued at around the €60m (£51.4m) mark.

Serie A star’s agent wants to deal with Edu only

Indeed, a clause in his deal presents former side Bayern Munich with a €40m option to re-sign him this summer; a clause they are unlikely to take up.

But now il Corriere dello Sport claims that the €40m (£34.3m) price actually applies to every suitor and that Bayern’s only advantage is that they would be given first refusal on a potential deal.

The Gunners are not the only side on the trail of Zirkzee, with Inter Milan and Juventus also having watched the striker closely.

However, Arsenal have a serious advantage thanks to Edu, with the Brazilian sharing a close relationship and friendship with Zirkzee’s agent, Kia Joorabchian.

The two men are reported to have already thrashed out a deal worth £99,000 a week over five years (€6m a season) – a significant rise on the deal he currently earns with Bologna.

Furthermore, Joorabchian has strongly advised his client to head to Emirates Stadium this summer and with Edu said to be ‘waiting for him with open arms’, their close friendship is expected to see the player confirm the move early in the summer window.

Incidentally, Bologna’s profits on the sale of Zirkzee are not all as it seems either, with Bayern owning a whopping 45% of his sell-on, meaning his €40m sale will only net the Serie A side €22m, albeit a tidt profit on their original €7.5m investment.

AC Milan are also fond of the striker but their focus has switched to another Arsenal linked striker in Benjamin Sesko in recent weeks.