Premier League • England

Arsenal rival Barcelona for brilliant Douglas Luiz alternative, with Arteta ‘aware’ of transfer opportunity

Real Sociedad star Martin Zubimendi and Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodrigo de Paul

Arsenal are battling Barcelona for the signing of Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi as they search for alternatives to Douglas Luiz, according to a report.

Aston Villa star Luiz has long been a target for Arsenal. Indeed, in summer 2022 the Gunners submitted three offers for him, the last of which came in at £25million. But Villa had no intention of letting the Brazilian leave and rejected all approaches.

In the most recent summer window, Arsenal smashed their transfer record by spending a huge £105m on West Ham captain Declan Rice. Despite that, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta still needs a replacement for Thomas Partey, who has played a bit-part role this season due to injury problems.

Luiz is understood to be Arteta’s number one target for the midfield area. But Villa remain determined to keep him as he is a vital part of their project.

On the matter, Unai Emery said recently: “He’s playing very good. He’s improved a lot, his commitment is amazing.

“I am very happy with him and I want to keep him of course. I think he’s happy with us.

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“He’s coming on with his national team. And his performance like today was amazing. I want him.”

On Wednesday, TEAMtalk exclusively revealed that Villa have lined up Lens star Salis Abdul Samed, should they reluctantly have to sell Luiz. But Arsenal must sound out alternatives in case they are unsuccessful in their pursuit of the former Manchester City man.

Arsenal, Barcelona both in for Martin Zubimendi

And this is where Zubimendi comes in. As per Spanish outlet Sport, Arsenal are providing Barca with competition for the Spain international’s capture.

It is suggested that both clubs were willing to spend €60m (£51.5m) to sign Zubimendi in the summer, only for him to reject their advances as he wanted to remain at Sociedad.

But Arsenal and Barca remain ‘aware’ of his talent and have already landed on him as a possible signing for 2024.

Sociedad are protected by Zubimendi’s contract, which runs until June 2027. Nevertheless, he will be one of the ‘main attractions’ for Arsenal and Barca next year.

If Arsenal are unable to snare Luiz away from Villa, then Zubimendi would be a fantastic alternative. He is a rock in the heart of the Sociedad midfield, having played in all of their 20 games so far this campaign.

He also has experience playing at the highest level in Europe, having represented Sociedad five times in the Champions League this term.

Plus, at 24 years of age, Zubimendi has plenty of time to get even better under Arteta’s guidance. The only trouble for Arsenal will be convincing him to depart his boyhood club.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are reportedly ‘ready’ to submit an offer for a coveted European teenager this winter.