Premier League • England

Arsenal in prime position to sign midfield tackling machine after Bayern Munich back away from deal

Arsenal's manager Mikel Arteta applauds the fans.

Arsenal's manager Mikel Arteta applauds the fans.

Arsenal could be in pole position to snap up one of the best defensive midfielders in European football after Bayern Munich backed away from a deal, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta remains interested in adding to his squad after a disappointing recent run of results, although any big deals are likely to have to wait until the summer.

One player who is potentially tipped to be on the move in January, however, is Fulham’s Joao Palhinha.

The Cottagers midfield standout came close to joining Bayern last summer, who had been expected to try their luck with the player again in the winter window.

However, transfer insider Romano has told CaughtOffside that Palhinha is now considered too expensive for Bayern, who are instead focusing on other targets for this January.

Romano now states that could open the door for other clubs to strike for the Fulham man, having previously indicated that Arsenal are in the mix for his signature.

The Gunners did spend more than £100m for Declan Rice last summer, but Arteta is turning the England star into more of a box-to-box midfielder while Palhinha is a traditional holding player who is renowned for breaking up play.

And with Thomas Partey struggling to get on the field, Romano has discussed what potentially lies ahead for Portugal international Palhinha – amid those strong Arsenal links, while Liverpool and Chelsea have also been linked with the player.

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Romano provides detailed Palhinha update

Discussing Palhinha’s situation, Romano said: “Joao Palhinha will not join Bayern Munich in the January transfer window. We know he was almost a Bayern player on deadline day in the summer before the deal collapsed – Bayern decided to keep following the player because they still like and appreciate Palhinha. However, now the deal will not happen because he is considered too expensive.

“Bayern are clear – they have no intention to pay €75-80m for Palhinha, and that is what Fulham want for the Portuguese midfielder after he signed a new deal in the summer. Nothing is happening in January for Palhinha to Bayern, who have instead signed Eric Dier, and now their focus is on signing a new right-back.

“For Palhinha, let’s see if the situation can change with an English club trying to sign him in January, or if he will move in the summer. At the moment the situation is quiet, and his price makes it look difficult for something to happen in January as the only way is for top clubs to sell players before, but this is also not easy.”

While any move for Palhinha would likely come in the summer, the fact that Arteta has a player of that quality on his radar has to be a positive for the Gunners in the long term.

Arsenal are back in action on January 20 when they host Crystal palace in the Premier League after a mini winter break.

However, by that time they could find themselves out of the top four, if north London rivals Tottenham win at Manchester United on Sunday.

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