Premier League • England

Fabrizio Romano talks up Arsenal chances of sublime €60m midfielder deal as Arteta rules out Everton raid

Arsenal are leading the race for Real Sociedad star Martin Zubimendi

Arsenal are leading the race for Real Sociedad star Martin Zubimendi

Arsenal remain right at the front of the queue to sign Martin Zubimendi this summer after Fabrizio Romano outlined their prospects of sealing his signing – while Mikel Arteta has strongly cooled his interest in an Everton man now deemed as “not having the right profile”.

The 2023/24 campaign was another season of progress for Arsenal as they took the title fight with Manchester City down to the final day, while the Gunners also showed their prowess in Europe by reaching the Champions League quarter-finals, where they were narrowly edged out by Bayern Munich.

And while only fine margins cost Arsenal going one or two steps further, work is already underway at identifying the type of signings who can make a real difference for the Gunners next season.

To that end, Arteta has already identified three positions to strengthen in this summer, with TEAMtalk understanding that a new left-sided defender (who can cover at left-back and a centre-half), a midfielder to partner Declan Rice and a new, reliable goalscorer in attack are all on their summer wishlist.

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Signing such players will, obviously, not come cheap and the Gunners emphasis will very much be on quality over quantity when it comes to pushing to bring in their top targets this summer.

To that end, plenty of thought has been placed into their list of midfield targets. While Jorginho has been retained on a new deal, doubts remain over both Albert Sambi Lokonga and Thomas Partey, neither of whom appear to have Arteta’s trust. Mohamed Elneny has already been released at the end of his deal.

Arsenal move ON for Martin Zubimendi

As a result, Arteta knows that signing a top-class partner for club record signing Rice in the engine room could be a game-changer for Arsenal.

Indeed, they have drawn up a list of a number of would be options, including the likes of Douglas Luiz and Bruno Guimaraes among their targets.

Deals for either Premier League star would likely cost in excess of £80m – but a cheaper option has emerged on the continent in the form of Real Sociedad star Zubimendi.

He has a clause in his deal allowing him to leave for €60m. And amid claims Barcelona have been priced out of the running, there were strong claims on Tuesday that Arsenal are growing in confidence that a deal for the Spain international can be done.

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Arteta and Co have been on his trail for the best part of two summers and now transfer expert Romano suggests there is a good chance Arsenal can finally get a deal done.

“We keep hearing a lot of stories about Martin Zubimendi, who has been linked several times mostly with Arsenal and Barcelona, while some outlets are now stating that he is unlikely to leave Real Sociedad as he is happy and settled in his hometown and not looking to leave the Basque region,” Romano told CaughtOffside.

“However, my understanding remains is that this is not decided yet. Zubimendi’s future, his decision, is still not clear yet – it remains an open situation, and he has a €60m release clause.”

Everton star deemed ‘not of the right profile’ for Arsenal

Another man mentioned is Benfica midfielder Joao Neves, who has been making waves in the Primeira Liga this season. His form has earned appreciation from Manchester United and Bruno Fernanes, among others, over recent months.

And while Romano admits Arsenal are keen, he does explain that the player’s release clause makes a move difficult to pull off.

“Joao Neves has been mentioned as a possible alternative for Arsenal in midfield,” Romano added.

“My information there remains that Neves has been scouted by Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City… all clubs interested but nothing is advanced at this stage, while it’s also important to remember that Neves’ price tag is double compared to Zubimendi as his release clause at Benfica is €120m.”

Another reported target is Everton midfielder Amadou Onana, who has found himself linked with the likes of United, Barcelona and Arsenal this summer.

And while the Toffees are seemingly open to his sale if a suitable offer comes in for the 6ft 5in Belgium international, it now looks unlikely that Arsenal will follow up their initial interest in the player and make a firm bid.

According to transfer journalist Steve Kay, speaking to KS1 TV, Arteta has moved very much away from a move for Onana, feeling the 11-cap Belgium man is not what Arsenal need right now.

“No, no, what I have been told on Onana, and this could all change, but from a very, very, very strong source close to Arsenal, according to him, Onana is not the right profile that Arsenal are looking at. That’s what I’m being told,” Kay said.