Premier League • England

‘Little Jorginho’ to Mikel Arteta’s liking as Edu works on surprise midfield addition for Arsenal

James Marshment
Samuele Ricci, Empoli midfielder during the Serie A match against AS Roma at Stadio Olimpico

Arsenal are reportedly preparing an offer for Samuele Ricci amid claims they feel the Empoli midfielder has the qualities they want to improve their midfield.

The Gunners look a little bit light in central midfield right now, with both Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny away at AFCON. Indeed, Mikel Arteta has just Albert Lokonga and Granit Xhaka as options for Sunday’s FA Cup third-round clash at Nottingham Forest.

The club has recently allowed former star Jack Wilshere to train with the club. And plenty think he could prove an excellent short-term option for Arsenal to plug the gap.

However, Arteta has very quickly ruled out that possibility and insists Wilshere will not be signing.

“I think I was very clear with the situation with Jack. We know the role that he was going to have being around here. We continue the same way,” Arteta confirmed.

Instead, the Gunners are understood to be looking at a number of other transfer options.

And one man who is reportedly high on their list of targets is Empoli star Ricci.

Ricci compared to Jorginho

The cultured midfielder – just 20 – has been a regular in the Empoli side this season, making 18 appearances in Serie A. Indeed, with Empoli sitting comfortable in mid-table, it’s little surprise to see a number of admirers come forward for Ricci.

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Now, as per Gazzetta Dello Sport, via Sport Witness, Ricci is a player ‘well liked’ at Emirates Stadium.

Standing 6ft 2in, Arteta reportedly believes Ricci has the qualities to shine in the Premier League. Indeed, the Gunners reportedly first made contact for the player all the way back in April last year.

Now it’s reported they are looking to push forward that initial interest amid claims Edu is currently working on a transfer.

Renato Sanches and Georginio Wijnaldum are also reportedly on Arsenal’s radar.

Ricci an option with money to spend

The player – named in the Italian media as a ‘Little Jorginho’ – is under contract until summer 2024. Therefore, his signing would not come cheap for Arsenal.

However, the Gunners do have money to spend this summer and Arteta admits the club are working on deals.

“I think with the amount of things, and the way that we want to evolve the squad, we have to maximise every window in many different ways and we are alert.

“Edu and his team are working very hard, as we know exactly what we need to do,” he said.

“Whether we can accomplish that in January or the summer is a different question. It’s all related to other stuff.

“If it is the right player and we can afford it, and we can do what we want to do, we will discuss it. We will make the best possible decision. We are open.”

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