Premier League • England

Mikel Arteta crucial as Arsenal prepare offer for Real Madrid man, with rival suitors blown away by two factors

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has told sporting director Edu to submit an offer for a former Manchester City player, according to reports.

Arteta was at City between 2016 and 2019. He worked as Pep Guardiola’s assistant manager, helping the Citizens to win two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and three League Cups.

Arteta left the Etihad in December 2019 when his former club Arsenal came calling. It took some time, but the Gunners are now reaping the rewards of showing the Spaniard patience and believing in his project.

They sit top of the Premier League table after 28 matches, with an eight-point lead on second-placed City, though Guardiola’s men do have a game in hand.

Arsenal have a brilliant opportunity to win their first league title since 2003/04. They were also hoping to go far in the Europa League, only for Sporting Lisbon to dump them out of the competition in the last 16.

All of Arteta’s focus will now be on getting to the league crown ahead of his former employers City.

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While Arsenal are perfectly set up for a glory-filled campaign, Arteta will need more new arrivals this summer to continue the upward trajectory and help to start another title charge next season.

And an ex-City player in the form of Brahim Diaz could end up moving to the Emirates. The central attacking midfielder, who can also operate out wide, was on City’s books between 2015 and 2019. Due to this, he will have worked with Arteta in training.

Former Man City player could return to England

Diaz left City in January 2019 for £15.5million. Since September 2020 the attacker has been on loan at Italian club AC Milan. Overall, he has made 81 appearances for the Rossoneri, chipping in with 11 goals.

His early goal in the first leg of Milan’s Champions League round of 16 tie with Tottenham proved to be the winner. Diaz and Milan will come up against Serie A leaders Napoli in the next round.

Arsenal were linked with Diaz on Wednesday. Reports emerging from Spain claimed Arteta to be ‘obsessed’ about landing the 23-year-old for Arsenal.

Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport have now provided their information on Diaz’s future, via Sport Witness. They reveal how, as part of the loan agreement, Milan have the option to sign Diaz permanently from Real for €22m (£19.5m) this summer.

However, due to financial constraints, Milan are trying to reduce this fee. They have scheduled in a meeting with Real to bring the cost down. The report labels the next few weeks as being ‘decisive’ for Diaz’s prospective move to Milan.

But their hesitation has allowed Arsenal to march in and plot a move of their own for Diaz. Arteta has told Edu to submit an offer to Real, and the club chief is ready to do just that.

There is no mention of how much Arsenal are preparing to put on the table for the player. Presumably, though, it is more than what Milan want to offer. Arsenal’s superior spending power is the first reason why Milan look set to be beaten to Diaz’s capture by the north London team.

The second factor to consider is Milan’s league position. They sit in fourth, ahead of fifth-placed Roma by one point. If Milan drop out of the top four and lose to Napoli in the Champions League then they will not qualify for next season’s UCL. This will put Diaz off as he wants to compete in Europe’s premier club competition.

Arsenal, in contrast, have pretty much guaranteed their spot in next season’s UCL as they are challenging for the Prem title.

Diaz would be a clever addition to Arteta’s squad. He would be able to provide backup for several players, such as Martin Odegaard in midfield or Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli out wide.

The only trouble for Diaz would be getting into Arteta’s starting eleven. After all, Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli are some of his best players, so it would not be easy to oust one of them.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have been given a big boost after Juventus dropped out of the race for one of their transfer targets.