Arsenal, Leicester make contact with agent of cultured, Italian midfielder

Date published: Wednesday 21st April 2021 11:04 - Matthew Briggs

Samuele Ricci, Empoli

Arsenal and Leicester are both chasing “one the most interesting talents in Italian football”, according to a report from the player’s homeland.

Empoli midfielder Samuele Ricci is the player in question. Tuttomercato claim that the Gunners, along with Leicester, are keen on the 19-year-old, who they describe as “one of the most interesting talents in Italian football”.  Ricci already made over 60 appearances for Empoli’s first-team after making his debut in September 2019.

This season in Serie B the central midfielder has two goals and four assists from 29 appearances. His composed midfield play has had scouts flocking to come and watch him.

Arsenal and Leicester are at the head of the queue though after already making contact with Ricci’s agent Federico Pastorello.

Napoli were preparing a move for the player last summer, according to journalist Nicolò Schira. The Partenopei were in pole position and were tipped to make a move for the player, who came through the Tuscan side’s academy.

A transfer though did not happen. However, even despite their impending promotion to Serie A they may have to sell Ricci this summer. His contract expires in 2022 and they will not want to lose him for a tribunal fee next summer.

According to Per Sempre Napoli, the Empoli president Fabrizio Corsi has made it known that he would not consider an offer of less that €12m for the player. 

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has said that plans are afoot for the summer transfer window. What’s more the Spaniard has given youth a chance in his time at The Emirates. Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Folarin Balogun and Gabriel Martinelli have all got game time.

Whether or not Ricci could command a regular place in Arsenal’s midfield is unclear. But Arteta is short of a player with “instinctive game vision combined with undeniable elegance” (Per Sempre Napoli).

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Interest in Maitland-Niles

Meanwhile, Leeds and Crystal Palace are two of the latest clubs understood to be looking at Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

The Arsenal man has been in good form on loan at West Brom, and according to the Daily Mirror, Palace are the latest Premier League club to show an interest in the 23-year-old. Leeds are also believed to be tracking the versatile star, who will have two years left on his Arsenal deal this summer.

Maitland-Niles moved in January to get regular football and he has proved his worth for the Baggies. He has made nine appearances in a central midfield role under Sam Allardyce.

French club Monaco are also watching the player, according to the source, while Wolves were keen on a potential deal last summer.

Maitland-Niles ended up staying at Arsenal but a lack of opportunities saw him push for a loan move in January. And the opportunity to play in midfield ultimately swung it for West Brom with several other clubs interested, including Southampton, Newcastle and Leicester.

READ MORE: Paper Talk: Triple exit threat forced Levy to sack Mourinho


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