Premier League • England

Arsenal force Barcelona into Plan C with midfield signing leaving Man City vulnerable to damaging raid

Man City attacker Jack Grealish and Leicester midfielder Youri Tielemans

Arsenal are ‘moving very hard’ to sign a Premier League midfielder at Barcelona’s expense that could in turn leave title rivals Man City weakened, per a report.

Arsenal sit atop the table with the Premier League now on hiatus ahead of the winter World Cup in Qatar. The Gunners lead title favourites Man City by five points and hopes are high a strong second half will see their title drought end at 19 years.

Mikel Arteta has found a tune out of every department in his squad thus far. The Spaniard must also be praised for his skilful navigation of a Europa League campaign – a competition many observers have previously claimed a club’s presence in makes it impossible to win the Premier League.

However, if Arsenal are to upset Man City come June, a strengthening in January may be required.

Arsenal addressed many areas of their squad over the summer, though two positions were left relatively untouched – central midfield and the wings.

Young Brazilian winger Marquinhos did arrive from Sao Paulo, though has been eased into the first-team slowly.

The Gunners continue to be linked with more established fliers in January such as Mykhaylo Mudryk. However, today’s update from Spain regards the engine room.

Arteta ramping up Tielemans chase?

Links between Arsenal and Leicester’s Youri Tielemans are no stranger. Indeed, the Belgian, 25, was the subject of strong interest from the Gunners last summer, though ultimately, no bids were tabled.

Tielemans continues to be one of the finest EPL players plying his trade outside of a traditional ‘big six’ club. However, his future at the King Power looks shaky at best.

Tielemans is out of contract next summer and both a free agent swoop or a cut-price deal in January have been mooted.

Now, Mundo Deportivo provide an update on Tielemans’ future, and it makes great reading for Arsenal fans on two fronts.

Their report centres around Barcelona’s interest in the Leicester ace, and claims Arsenal are providing ‘strong competition’ and ‘moving very hard’ to sign the Belgian.

Tielemans has also been linked with Liverpool of late and their midfield woes are well documented. However, Mundo make no mention of Jurgen Klopp’s Reds in their piece.

Instead, Sport Witness cite reports out of Belgium that suggest Arsenal are closing in on Tielemans. albeit at the end of the season and not in January.

Regardless, if Arsenal do land their man, Barcelona will be forced into pursuing yet another target to replace Sergio Busquets who’s expected to depart at season’s end.

Tielemans to Arsenal could weaken Man City

It’s claimed Man City’s Bernardo Silva was their Plan A, though a move is fraught with difficulties. Tielemans was plan B, though if Arsenal pounce, Plan C will see a move for Ilkay Gundogan explored.

The midfield veteran, 32, is out of contract at the Etihad next summer. Gundogan remains a key cog in Guardiola’s squad and per the report, is adored by Pep himself.

A January switch will be difficult, not least because a fee would be required and Barcelona are already out of the Champions League. However, a pre-contract agreement could be signed beyond January 1 that would see Gundogan move to Spain next summer.

In that scenario, Arsenal would simultaneously be strengthening their midfield and playing a part in Man City’s being weakened in the same stroke.

While that would have no effect on this season’s title race, Arsenal fans will expect their presence atop the table isn’t simply a one-off this year.

TRANSFER GOSSIP: Liverpool ahead of Arsenal for 41-goal Bundesliga striker as Klopp drops hint; Villa eye stunning Barcelona midfielder raid