Premier League • England

Perfect midfielder chooses Arsenal over two Prem rivals, as Edu learns star man can join for fraction of true value

Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

An all-action midfielder prefers joining Arsenal over Newcastle and a London rival, and the Gunners have been alerted to a significant price drop for a player who’ll now cost a fraction of his true value.

Mikel Arteta prioritised signing a high profile midfielder capable of making an immediate impact in his starting eleven last month.

Big bids for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo were tabled, though the Seagulls refused to entertain a mid-season exit at any price.

That prompted Caicedo’s two primary suitors – Arsenal and Chelsea – to quickly ramp up alternative moves.

The Blues aimed high and succeeded when smashing the British transfer record for £106.8m man Enzo Fernandez. The Gunners, meanwhile, settled on the far most cost-effective £12m addition of Jorginho.

Clearly, the money was there for Arsenal to spend and various reports have stressed a far higher profile option will be targeted at season’s end.

The club’s main priority in the engine room is understood to be West Ham’s Declan Rice. The 24-year-old has rejected three contract extensions put forward by the Hammers and both the Athletic and Ben Jacobs share the view West Ham will reluctantly cash in.

However, Chelsea and Man City are expected to ‘push Arsenal all the way’, per Football Insider.

As such, Arsenal face the very real prospect of missing out on yet another primary target. Aside from Caicedo, they also saw Mykhailo Mudryk poached by Chelsea in the winter window.

In the event Rice evades them, an all-action alternative – who’d also provide a far greater attacking threat – is Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

Milinkovic-Savic wants Arsenal; reluctant Lazio drop price

The Serbian ace, who turns 28 today, is a name perennially linked with a move to the Premier League year after year. Arsenal and Man Utd are the two clubs always in the mix, but perhaps for the first time, there’s a very real chance Milinkovic-Savic may actually move.

That’s because his current contract is due to expire in the summer of 2024. As yet, there’s been no progress made on an extension.

The summer window thus represents the ideal time for Lazio to cash in on their star man, with the report claiming Lazio ‘appear to have conceded that Milinkovic-Savic won’t sign a new deal’.

Corriere dello Sport (via Football London) report Lazio could accept a cut-price €40m (approx. £35.3m) bid for their two-time and reigning Player of the Season.

That is a figure far below the previous sums cited in conjunction with a Milinkovic-Savic move. Indeed, Lazio chief Claudio Lotito said as recently as October: “On the contrary, he [Milinkovic-Savic] is now worth €120m [£105m], not €100m [£88m]. Every month the price goes up.”

The EPL is deemed his ‘most likely destination’ and of the three clubs mentioned in the report, it’s claimed Arsenal are his preferred choice. The others are Newcastle and West Ham.

Milinkovic-Savic is an all-action midfielder and boasts very few weaknesses in his game.

His 6ft 4in height suggests he’d be able to withstand the increased physicality of the Premier League. He’s bagged four goals and eight assists across 21 Serie A matches this term and was named in the competition’s Team of the Season in the 2017-18 and 2021-22 campaigns.

In the event Arsenal miss out on Declan Rice, Milinkovic-Savic looks a high class – and far cheaper – alternative.

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