Mikel Arteta has set his sights on signing Nabil Fekir this summer as the Arsenal boss seeks a replacement for loan signing Dani Ceballos.
Spanish midfielder joined the Gunners on a season-long loan last summer, but has struggled to make too much of an impact, registering 10 Premier League starts, no goals and two assists.
Arsenal do hold an option to make the move permanent, but that looks increasingly unlikely given Ceballos’ indifferent form.
The Frenchman has been a big hit in Spain after producing seven goals and six assists in 22 La Liga appearances this season. His versatility also is said to appeal to Arteta with Fekir having played as a No 10, and on the left and right wings.
Fekir, of course, almost moved to the Premier League in the summer of 2018 when Jurgen Klopp made him his No 1 replacement for Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian had moved to Barcelona earlier that year for £142m and Fekir was targeted to take his place in the side.
But after holding talks and agreeing terms, the transfer broke down after his medical revealed issues with his knee and Liverpool asked Lyon for a restructuring of upfront payments.
That deal could have netted Lyon £53m, but he then moved to Betis a year later for the bargain fee of just £19million.
But any deal to bring him to the Premier League now would likely set Arsenal back £40m. Fekir is contracted to Betis until summer 2023.
Fekir has also been linked to Newcastle, but the World Cup winner’s young brother Yassin – also on the books of Real Betis – insists he is settled at Betis.
Yassin Fekir told Estadio Deportivo: “My brother is very happy in Seville and at Betis.
“He is very happy to be able to face this new challenge in his career and feel the support of the fans.”
Parlour will welcome Fekir link
Reports of Arsenal’s enquiry for Fekir will likely go down well with Ray Parlour, who has lamented Arsenal’s lack of goals from midfield.
“The goals are not really spread around the team are they, with Arsenal,” he told talkSPORT.
“You get [Alexandre] Lacazette chip in with a few, [Mesut] Ozil probably doesn’t score enough for the position he plays, the midfield are very much more defensive minded.
“[Granit] Xhaka’s not going to score you goals, [Lucas] Torreira’s not going to score you goals, they’ve lost [Aaron] Ramsey who was the goalscorer from midfield.
“So I look at an attacking midfielder really who’s probably going to try and score you 10 goals a season but you’re talking big money then to spend.”