Arsenal may struggle to sign a top midfielder after Newcastle reportedly submitted a £53.1million bid for him and offered a massive signing-on bonus if he goes to St James’ Park.
Mikel Arteta already has strong options in central midfield. His preferred pairing is Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey, while he can rely on Mohamed Elneny and Albert Sambi Lokonga if one of the first-team duo gets injured.
However, Arteta has been looking for a new player to bolster the position for some time. This is because Partey has a bad injury record and Lokonga is not quite up to scratch yet. Plus, Elneny is 30 years old and could leave Arsenal at the end of the season, upon the expiry of his contract.
Youri Tielemans has widely been tipped as Arsenal’s top target to improve the midfield. He is in a similar position to Elneny, as his Leicester deal runs out this summer. This sets up the possibility of the Belgian moving to Arsenal on the cheap during the January transfer window.
Gunners sporting director Edu Gaspar has been in contact with Tielemans and his agent to try and sort out a move. But on January 5, the Telegraph revealed a big reason why Tielemans might not end up in north London.
Edu has apparently been left shocked by Tielemans’ wage demands. As such, he is now looking at alternative midfielders to add to Arteta’s squad.
One player Arsenal have landed on is Lazio talisman Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. The Serbian has regularly been linked with a move to the Premier League and such a transfer could finally go through this month. This is due to his Lazio deal expiring at the end of next season.
As per a recent report from Italy, Arsenal and Juventus are ‘ready’ to move for Milinkovic-Savic in January.
Arsenal tipped to sign player on loan with obligation to buy
The star would initially move to Arsenal on loan, with the obligation for them to buy him this summer. It is claimed Lazio will accept a total package worth €50million (£44m).
But unfortunately for Arteta and Arsenal, they could miss out on Milinkovic-Savic to a Premier League rival. According to Sport Witness, who cite fresh reports emerging from Italy, Newcastle have burst into the Milinkovic-Savic race.
And the Magpies are preparing to submit a significant €60m (£53.1m) offer for him. It seems Newcastle are willing to go above Lazio’s initial asking price to ensure a permanent deal can be agreed at the earliest opportunity.
While Arsenal cannot afford to match Tielemans’ wage demands, Newcastle do not have such problems. They have huge financial power thanks to their Saudi Arabian owners. And due to this, they are planning to give Milinkovic-Savic a massive €12m (£10.6m) signing-on bonus to join.
Newcastle offer massive wages to achieve signing ahead of Arsenal
This would be given to the 27-year-old on top of an £8.8m-per-year salary. This works out at just over £170,000 a week.
Milinkovic-Savic would be a fantastic signing for Newcastle. He has proven himself to be a goal and assists machine in Italy over the past few years.
Last season, he contributed 11 goals and 12 assists in all competitions. This helped Lazio finish fifth in Serie A and reach the quarter-final of the Coppa Italia, where they lost to AC Milan.
Milinkovic-Savic has not quite been as effective in front of goal this term. Five goals and seven assists have come his way in all competitions. However, an effective second half of the season could see him eclipse his assists from the previous campaign.
These reasons show why Arsenal would be missing out big time if Milinkovic-Savic went to Newcastle. As such, Edu must decide whether he can get close to Newcastle’s bid.
The difference in wages will definitely be a problem. But perhaps Arteta can convince him to join Arsenal over Newcastle by pointing to the Gunners’ title charge.