Premier League • England

Paul Merson names £120m star Arsenal must sign as Edu nears deal for £34.3m alternative

Paul Merson has had his say on Mikel Arteta's Arsenal transfer targets

Paul Merson has had his say on Mikel Arteta's Arsenal transfer targets

Paul Merson is urging Arsenal to break the bank to sign Alexander Isak this summer after explaining why the Newcastle striker can take them to the next level – but sporting director Edu appears to have other ideas with a deal now edging closer for a €40m-rated alternative.

The Gunners have enjoyed season of real progress under Mikel Arteta this season and will on Sunday learn if their quest to win the Premier League title is a successful one or not. Standing in their way – and strong favourites to retain their title once again – are the indomitable Manchester City.

However, the fact that Arsenal have taken the race down to the final day, while also reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League shows that the Gunners are a team on the rise.

But like all top sides, no team ever stands still and efforts to improve on their squad ahead of the new season are already underway.

To that end, Arteta wants to strengthen three positions this summer, with a new left-back and another midfielder, to partner Declan Rice very much in his thinking.

GO DEEPER 👉 Top five Arsenal striker targets ranked by suitability for Arteta as Edu seeks perfect upgrade

But it is a new striker that is very much at the top of his radar and moves to find a more prolific No 9 than either Gabriel Jesus or Eddie Nketiah have offered this season are very much underway.

The two men have just 14 goals between them (Jesus has eight goals in 35 games, while Nketiah has six goals in 37), stressing just how much a more prolific option would improve their side this summer.

As a result, Arsenal have been closely considering the merits of a number of potential options in recent months.

Paul Merson on why Isak takes Arsenal to the next level

Indeed, Ivan Toney, Victor Osimhem, Benjamin Sesko and Viktor Gyokeres are four names who have come under the microscope at Arsenal this summer.

However, in recent days the focus appears to have sharpened with Newcastle star Isak very much a player of interest to Arteta.

The Sweden striker has enjoyed an excellent season in front of goal, scoring 24 times in 37 appearances for the Magpies.

Such form has earned him a lofty price tag – and huge admiration from Arsenal who would love to have them in their side.

However, Newcastle are intent on keeping their star man and have placed a minimum £100m fee on his head, while some expect Eddie Howe’s side to demand a British record £120m were his sale to go through.

Nonetheless, former Gunners star Merson believes Isak is the real deal and reckons the 24-year-old would take Arsenal to another level.

“They [Newcastle] are a massive team, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of their stars moved on to win trophies. If Arsenal sign a striker like Isak, I think they go to another level,” Merson told SportsKeeda.

Arteta, meanwhile, has also come clean on his wish to quickly strengthen his squad when the summer window opens for business.

“That’s the ideal scenario,” Arteta responded after being asked about targeting signings for the start of the window. “Every club wants that, we want that as coaches and for the players especially. Then for the team and for the environment.

“When you do that something clicks there and it’s really important because it starts to give you momentum.”

Gunners close on €40m Joshua Zirkzee deal

Despite having money to spend, a deal for Isak just looks too prohibitive for Arsenal, especially given their need to also add more quality to their midfield this summer.

However, as an alternative, the Gunners have been given serious hope that the signing of Joshua Zirkzee can soon be pulled off – and a significant double update has aided their prospects of a deal for the Bologna man.

First of all, Arsenal have learned that the Netherlands striker’s €40m exit clause is applicable for all suitors this summer and not just (former club) Bayern Munich as previously expected. That is a €20m reduction from Bologna’s current market value of the 22-year-old.

And while the Bundesliga side are due to collect 45% of any sale, the prospect of bringing in the talented Dutchman for just £34.3m looks too good an opportunity for Arsenal to pass up on.

Furthermore, another big factor puts a deal for Zirkzee very much in Arsenal’s hands.

Indeed, a striker of his talents is not just on Arsenal’s radar and there is rival interest from within Italy from all of AC Milan, Inter and Juventus.

DON’T MISS 👉 The world-class XI Arsenal could field next season if Arteta lands top midfield, striker targets

However, Edu’s close friendship with Zirkzee’s agent, Kia Joorabchian, gives the Gunners a major edge in the race.

The two men are understood to have already thrashed out a £99,000 a week deal for the striker, worth €30m to the player over a five-year deal.

And with Joorabchian understood to have strongly advised his client to move to north London, it could be a question of when not if the Gunners sanction the signing of the 42-goal star.