Premier League • England

Edu plots devilish Arsenal swap with Barcelona with two unwanted stars the bait for quality defender

Arsenal chief Edu is reportedly keen to bring in Barcelona defender Joules Kounde this summer

Arsenal chief Edu is reportedly keen to bring in Barcelona defender Joules Kounde this summer

Arsenal sporting director Edu is reported to have made contact with Barcelona counterpart Deco in an attempt to bring France defender Joules Kounde to Emirates Stadium – and has tried to sweeten the deal by offering the LaLiga giants two Gunners stars.

The Brazilian has picked up some astute signings over recent years and operated smartly in the transfer market with his policy enabling Arsenal to become the most serious challengers to Manchester City’s Premier League dominance. However, after coming up just short in the title race on the final day of the season, both Edu and Mikel Arteta know Arsenal need further reinforcements to ensure they can go one step better and better their performance in reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.

And with the summer window set to officially open for business on Friday – and here’s everything you need to know on the transfer window – the Gunners are planning at least three major new signings to ensure they can close the gap on the very best even more.

To that end, TEAMtalk understands that Edu and Arteta want three new additions to their ranks, with a versatile defender, a midfield partner for Declan Rice and a prolific new No 9 right at the forefront of their thinking.

Before any of those are brought in, however, the Gunners will shortly confirm the permanent signing of David Raya on a permanent £27m deal from Brenford.

Another new goalkeeper could also be sought should Aaron Ramsdale depart, while an exciting development in the hunt for a new striker saw Arsenal linked with one the very best around on Wednesday.

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Arsenal transfers: Edu offers two players in swap for Jules Kounde

However, with the bulk of Arsenal’s summer budget likely to be spent on a new No 9 and a midfield partner for Rice, Edu might have to wheel and deal somewhat if he is to land a defensive recruit, and in an effort to ensure the Gunners stay on the right side of the Premier League’s strict new FFP regulations.

As a result, reports from Spain now claim Edu has offered Barcelona two unwanted stars in a swap deal for versatile defender Kounde.

The 25-year-old, part of the France squad for the forthcoming European championships, made his name in the game as a central defender with Sevilla, though has often filled in at right-back for the Blaugrana since a €55m (£46.5m) move in summer 2022.

Long linked with the likes of Chelsea, it’s now claimed Kounde is a major summer target for the Gunners this summer, with Edu looking to take advantage of the tight financial spot Barcelona find themselves in.

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To that end – and knowing Barcelona are looking to get themselves a new defensive midfielder – it’s claimed Edu has offered Thomas Partey as part of the deal, with the Gunners seemingly no longer trusting the Ghanaian after an injury-hit season.

And while Arteta has publicly backed the 30-year-old midfielder, TEAMtalk understands they are willing to listen to offers for the player owing to the fact his contract is due to expire in a year’s time.

The second player offered to Barca is another star Arteta is ready to move on this summer in the form of striker Eddie Nketiah. TEAMtalk were the first to break the news that the 25-year-old was up for sale, with a pricve tag of around £35m to £40m on his head.

Whether the offer to sign the once-capped England striker appeals to new boss Hansi Flick remains to be seen, though Barca are likely to be in the market for a new striker with the LaLiga giants willing to move on Brazilian Vitor Roque after just six months at the Nou Camp.