Arsenal are planning to replace Thomas Partey in the summer and the man they want to fill the void is Martin Zubimendi – but a report has revealed why they are worried it won’t go their way.
Partey was a key player in Arsenal’s midfield alongside Granit Xhaka last season as they finished second in the Premier League, but – thanks in part to the club-record purchase of Declan Rice – it has been completely different this season.
Xhaka was sold to Bayer Leverkusen in the summer and Partey has often been unavailable for Arsenal this season, which could turn out to be his own last with the club.
Partey is only under contract at the Emirates Stadium until next year, so this summer seems like an ideal time for Arsenal to cash in on the 30-year-old and bring in a younger replacement.
On that front, they have been heavily linked with Real Sociedad’s Zubimendi recently.
Thanks to a €60m (£51.3m) release clause, he might be cheaper than some of Arsenal’s other ideas of Partey replacements.
It was the Daily Mirror that recently revealed how Zubimendi was rising up Arsenal’s shortlist, but it is now the same source that has relayed why Mikel Arteta’s side are becoming worried they will miss out on him.
And it is not because of recent rumours that Liverpool are leading the race instead, nor interest from any other rival suitor in the Premier League.
Indeed, the concern that could end Arsenal’s pursuit of Zubimendi is that he might not want to come to the Premier League from LaLiga at all.
Zubimendi, who turned 25 last week, remains under contract with La Real until 2027 and has openly admitted he has no burning desire to leave his local club.
Zubimendi happy to stay in San Sebastian
After progressing through their academy setup, Zubimendi has earned 176 appearances for La Real, including 33 this season, in which he has scored half of his overall total of eight goals for the club.
Seemingly settled in San Sebastian and Spain as a whole, Zubimendi might not necessarily agree personal terms to move to Arsenal even if they were to activate his release clause.
The 25-year-old told Marca in May: “I have never planned to leave Real Sociedad, I always say that. I love life here, at home, I’m so happy here.
“The values of this club are the same as mine so I feel very good, I always said that I’m happy.”
If Zubimendi is out of reach for Arsenal, they might have to reassess their plans, which could mean paying more money for other players.
For example, other midfielders they admire include Aston Villa’s highly-rated Douglas Luiz, but the Brazilian could be valued towards the nine-figure barrier.