Premier League • England

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic: Arsenal transfer talks held but key Lazio demand causes Edu to respond badly

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic of SS Lazio looks on during the Serie A football match between Torino FC and SS Lazio

Arsenal have reportedly been sent reeling after holding a meeting with Lazio officials in London over a potential deal to sign highly-rated midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

The Gunners have been heavy spenders in the summer market so far with a fifth major signing shortly to be confirmed in Oleksandr Zinchenko. That takes their total spending soaring to around the £120m mark – and it seems they are not yet ready to stop.

Indeed, next on Mikel Arteta’s agenda is a new midfield general. And while Zinchenko can play in midfield too, the Arsenal boss wants to bring in a specialist in the engine room.

With the Europa League to contend with, the club also wants to push for a top-four Premier League finish.

As such, finding cover and competition for Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka is very much a big need.

To that end, the Gunners have been linked with a number of targets. And their hopes of a deal for Youri Tielemans have taken an upturn with the player trying to force Leicester’s hand, as per the latest reports.

However, Arsenal do have other options to consider too. And Thursday’s Transfer Gossip claims Juventus’ Arthur Melo is ready to say yes to a move amid claims an offer is imminent.

Another star the Gunners have been linked with is Milinkovic-Savic.

The Serbian is regarded as one of Serie A’s leading midfielders, having been with Lazio for a number of seasons. Rated as one of the world’s leading box-to-box midfielders, Milinkovic-Savic has 58 goals in 294 appearances for the capital club.

His form has regularly drawn admiring glances from some of the world’s leading clubs. Indeed, Manchester United have been tracking the 27-year-old since Jose Mourinho’s time in charge.

Lazio asking price derails Arsenal

Lazio’s valuation, though, always put paid to his suitors.

Now, however, there is a feeling in the Italian media that Lazio are ready to sell.

Amid claims of a lessening valuation, Arsenal reportedly met with the Serie A outfit recently to discuss a potential sale.

That claim has now been substantiated by Calciomercato, who claims ‘exploratory contacts’ have taken place between the sides.

Explaining further, they state, Lazio director Igli Tare recently travelled to London to discuss a potential deal with the Gunners.

However, they were met with two obstacles over the potential deal.

Firstly, despite reports that Lazio’s stance was softening, Arsenal technical director Edu was reportedly left stunned by their £59.6m – £68m (€70m – €80m) valuation.

That was beyond what Arsenal were seemingly prepared to pay, with the Gunners believing £45m – £50m may have done the trick.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic likely to stay with Lazio

Furthermore, Arsenal have since learned that Milinkovic-Savic is hesitant over a move to Arsenal. And with Arteta only wanting players who want to play for the Gunners, that stance has caused Edu to walk away.

Tare also reportedly held a meeting with Chelsea and they too were seemingly left befuddled by Lazio’s asking price. While Todd Boehly is in the market for a new midfielder, they are reportedly more keen on Frenkie de Jong.

As such, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic now appears likely to stay in Rome. To that end, president Claudio Lotito also looks likely to stand by his asking price.

Furthermore, the Serbian star has this week been used to promote Lazio’s new third kit for the 2022/23 season. And the Italian media has taken that as an indication that he will likely stay with the club this season.

Arsenal ready to up their bid for Milinkovic-Savic

Arsenal are prepared to up their bid for Lazio midfielder Milinkovic-Savic.

As such, it seemss highly unlikely a move to the Premier League will be on the cards. And it’s probably wise that Arsenal are instead pursuing other options ahead of the Serb.

As good a player as he is, it makes little sense chasing a footballer who doesn’t want to sign.

Arteta, meanwhile, is turning his thoughts to offloading Arsenal’s unwanted stars after discussing their plans from Florida.