Arsenal path clears to Italy sensation after ex-Gunner given reprieve

Neil Foster
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Arsenal have been given a boost in their pursuit of Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli as Juventus appear to have withdrawn their interest and will back their currrent stars.

The 23-year-old has been on the Gunners radar for some time. He has starred for I Neroverdi for the past three seasons and carried his form into Euro 2020. The former Milan star was part of the Azzurri side that beat England in the final.

He came on as a substitute during the extra time period and lifted the trophy with his team-mates at Wembley. The Lecco-born ace has scored three goals from 15 appearances for Italy.

Despite Arsenal’s interest, it seemed as though Juventus were in pole position to land the schemer. In early July, Sassuolo director Giovanni Carnevali confirmed both clubs were keen.

“Arsenal have made an official bid for Locatelli. They’re pushing hard to sign Manuel and it’s an important bid… we will see,” he said, via the Mirror.

“Juventus also want Locatelli and we have a special relationship with them. A new meeting has been scheduled with Juve.”

Juve appeared to be ahead of the Emirates outfit, while Liverpool have also been mentioned in connection with the star. The Old Lady seemed ready to dispense with Aaron Ramsey this summer after two underwhelming campaigns in Turin.

However after watching his charges beat Atalanta 3-1 in Saturday’s friendly, manager Massimilano Allegri appears to have had a change of heart. And the former Milan chief hinted that he is happy to rely on the Wales international.

“Locatelli is a Sassuolo player. I think Aaron Ramsey played a good game tonight, he’s an intelligent player,” he told Sky Sports Italia.

“I think he has a future playing just in front of the defence. Tonight, it wasn’t easy against Atalanta and it’s just the second time he has played in that role, he went to cover lots of aerial balls.

“When he gets used to it more, he will make fewer mistakes because he’ll have the structure laid out in his head. He is a player I can count on a lot.”

Locatelli a value summer buy

Locatelli is thought to favour a move to Juventus over north London. He may well stay put at Sassuolo, with new manager Alessio Dionisi looking to build on last season’s eighth-place finish.

But should they opt to sell, then any suitor will have to part with around £35million to get a deal over the line.

And Mikel Arteta might push the Arsenal money men to pay that much after his side’s dismal opening 2-0 loss to Brentford.