Arsenal identify £52.5m Caicedo alternative, as Arteta eyes LaLiga sensation and West Ham star to revamp his midfield

Martin Zubimendi, Real Sociedad, during LaLiga match v FC Barcelona - Reale Arena, San Sebastian

Arsenal would ‘prefer’ to sign Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi over Brighton and Hove Albion’s Moises Caicedo this summer, according to reports. 

The Gunners were heavily linked with both players in January; seeing two bids rejected for the Seagull’s star man, but it seems Mikel Arteta has now chosen which of the pair he prefers.

Zubimendi will prove to be a cheaper purchase, too, as he is believed to have a release clause of £52.5m in his contract.

As previously reported by TEAMtalk, Arsenal saw a bid of £70m rejected for Caicedo at the end of the January window, as both they and Chelsea scrambled for the Ecuadorian’s signature.

However, despite the player submitting a transfer request, Brighton ultimately refused to sell Caicedo mid-season.

Now, the midfielder has penned a fresh contract extension until 2027 at the Amex Stadium, suggesting that he won’t be going anywhere for the foreseeable future.

As a result, Arsenal have now had to turn their attention to alternative targets, with Arteta thought to be very keen on Sociedad centre-mid Zubminedi, who has dazzled in LaLiga this season.

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Zubimendi to join Arsenal alongside Declan Rice?

According to transfer expert Steve Kay, the Gunners will push to sign Zubimendi this summer, as well as West Ham United’s captain: Declan Rice.

On TwitterKay said: “Arsenal would prefer to sign Martin Zubimendi over Moises Caicedo in the upcoming summer window alongside midfielder Declan Rice.

“AFC tried to sign the Sociedad player in January before Caicedo but he wanted to keep loyal to the Spanish club until the end of the season.”

Indeed, the combination of Zubimendi and Rice could work perfectly for Arsenal, as Arteta looks to bolster his midfield ahead of next season.

This season, the 24-year-old has been one of Sociedad’s most important players, featuring 23 times in the league, generally operating from a defensive midfield position – scoring one goal and making two assists.

Zubimendi has often been compared to a young Sergio Busquets for his excellent passing range, presence on the pitch and ability to break up opposition attacks. If he can reach the heights Busquets did in his career… he could become a world-class player in the future.

As for Rice, he has been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal for several months now, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him head to the Emirates.

With the England international’s contract set to expire in 2024, it is believed a bid in the region of £60m would be enough to sign the West Ham star this summer.

Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea all have Rice on their radar, though, so Arsenal have a lot of competition to contend with.

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