Premier League • England

Arteta wants to take Arsenal transfer plan to the extreme – but owner shuts down move

Filippo Ranocchia battles with Ianis Stoica in an U21 clash between Italy and Romania, November 2021

Mikel Arteta is reportedly ready to take Arsenal’s transfer plan to the extreme – but he’s been shut down by the owner of his target.

The Gunners have opted to take a youthful recruitment approach in the transfer market. So far, that has involved signing players in their early 20s who are showing high potential. But this could be set to change.

That’s because Arteta is eyeing up a January move for Romania U21 international Ianis Stoica, according to Playsport.

The winger, 18, is much younger and less experienced than Arsenal’s recent signings. But he is performing so well that they are willing to make an early move.

Stoica has scored six goals in 14 appearances from out wide in all competitions for Steaua Bucharest so far this season.

That’s despite him mainly starting on the bench.

And with the Gunners set to soon lose attacking options Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah, he would slot straight into their first-team set-up.

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The club’s scouts are said to have been monitoring him for the past two months. They are now ready to travel to Romania next year to negotiate a deal.

However, the club’s owner, Gigi Becali, has told them to forget about it. He has no intention of selling the ‘jewel’ of their team.

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“It is good that Arsenal are monitoring Ianis, but there is no point as he is not for sale,” Becali said.

“He could be in a year or two, but not yet. He is technically skilled, physically strong and very smart.

“To look at him, you’d think he is 23 years old – not 18.”

Arteta may therefore have to look elsewhere to replace their out-of-contract stars. That is, unless a big money offer can change Becali’s mind.

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Potential competition from rival scouts

Stoica played the full 90 minutes of Romania U21’s friendly with Italy U21 in the recent international break.

That match was attended by scouts from several top European clubs. Tuttomercatoweb claimed that there were ‘no shortage of observers’ in the stands for the game, which the Italians won 4-2.

Officials from Spurs, Atletico Madrid and AC Milan were said to be among the biggest names in attendance.

It was thought that Italy’s up-and-coming stars were the focus of most scouts. But it’s possible some also had an eye on Stoica.

There was no mention of Arsenal officials being present in the report.

Italy defender Simone Canestrelli stole the headlines with a hat-trick and an own goal in the comfortable win.

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