Premier League • England

Edu strikes gold as Arsenal convince explosive striker to sign after offering ‘staggering numbers’

Edu is closing in on a new striker signing for Arsenal with Joshua Zirkzee now their prime target

Edu is closing in on a new striker signing for Arsenal

Arsenal are reportedly nearing a deal to sign Joshua Zirkzee after Mikel Arteta decided on the striker as his number one target and Edu put before the star a mesmerising salary to move to Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners are top of the Premier League table with just three games left to play and have dreams of ending their 20-year wait to be crowned champions of England. Breathing down their necks, though, and looking for a historic fourth successive title themselves, are Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s side are just a point back and do have a game in hand – ironically at Arsenal’s fiercest rivals Tottenham – though do have that familiar hunger in their stride of late.

If Arsenal do fail to win the league, it won’t be for both a lack of effort and having made some serious strides forward this season. Indeed, as it stands, Arteta’s side boast the best defence (28 goals conceded in 35 games so far) and the best attack (85 scored) – meaning anything less than first place can certainly be counted as unlucky.

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One thing often levelled at Arsenal is the lack of a cutting edge in attack. And while Arteta can rightfully point to his side’s top-scoring achievements so far, it is fair comment that they have done so without a clinical centre forward. To that end, their top main options Gabriel Jesus (eight goals in 33 games this season) and Eddie Nketiah (six in 37) have not exactly been prolific.

Indeed, Bukayo Saka (15), Kai Havertz (12), Leandro Trossard (10) and Martin Odegaard (eight) have all bettered or matched Arsenal’s frontmen this season, underlining their attack as an area of major improvement this summer.

Edu decides on Zirkzee as top Arsenal target

To help finance a move, TEAMtalk exclusively broke the news last month that Arsenal are ready to cash in on Nketiah at the season’s end, having circulated his name to Premier League rivals.

And while Crystal Palace, Brentford and Wolves have all shown an appetite to meet Arsenal’s asking price, we also broke the news on Wednesday that the once-capped England international has effectively ruled one of those out the running.

In terms of incomings, Arsenal have been weighing up a number of quality options for months, with Ivan Toney, Victor Osimhen and Viktor Gyokeres among the high-end options under consideration.

However, after doing their due dilligence on the merits of each and every deal, it’s now reported by multiple outlets that Arsenal have decided to make Zirkzee their number one target – and have been given major encouragement that a deal is there to be done.

The Bologna striker, while not exactly prolific himself, is enjoying a tremendous season with the Serie A side, who look well on course to qualify for the Champions League next season.

Currently sat fourth – and aided by the fact that Serie A will likely get a fifth UCL place in UEFA’s expanded format next season – Zirkzee has played a part in 16 goals this season (12 goals and four assists).

His age, profile, and all-round game means he fits perfectly with the Arsenal mould, while his price tag is also some distance smaller than that of some of the alternatives the Gunners have looked at.

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His form has alerted AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan over his abilities this summer too.

However, as per Gazzetta dello Sport, it is Arsenal who have burst into the lead for his signature, with the Gunners the only side so far willing to meet Bologna’s €60m (£51m) valuation of the 22-year-old.

That sale will be comfortably a record amount received by the Serie A side, and they will be powerless to prevent the Netherlands striker moving on if such an offer comes their way.

In addition, Edu is reported to have already opened talks with his representative over a switch to Emirates Stadium.

And Calciomercato now claims that the Arsenal sporting director has already convinced Zirkzee to make the move by offering him what has been described as “staggering numbers” to sign on the dotted line.

Per the report, Arsenal are willing to pay Zirkzee a £99,000 a week salary (€6m a year) over a five-year contract, potentially earning the player some €30m (£25m) over the duration of the deal.

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Currently on a wage worth under €1m a year (£18,000 a week), it is easy to see why Zirkzee’s eyes have been lit up by the prospect of the move to north London.

Arsenal are also able to offer the player Champions League football, and a solid chance of going deep into the competition if this season’s efforts are anything to go by, giving the move additional appeal.

Per the reports, Arsenal are now ‘preparing their assault’ to strike an official deal for Zirkzee. But by widespread accounts, there is a strong belief that the forward is already close to becoming their first signing of the summer.