Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is expected to draw a blank after seeing learning top target Joao Cancelo is now closing in on a move to Barcelona from Manchester City.
The Gunners boss is hoping to strengthen his rearguard after seeing summer signing Jurrien Timber struck down by a cruel ACL injury. The Dutchman – a £38m signing from Ajax in July – suffered the blow during his Premier League debut against Nottingham Forest and is expected to be sidelined for the entire season.
The unfortunate injury leaves Arteta’s plans for the season in ruins, with Timber seen as an ideal candidate to play in the inverted full-back role, or as a centre-half, for Arsenal this season.
Some have suggested the blow to Timber could hand a lifeline to Kieran Tierney. However, Charles Watts has confirmed that the setback to Timber changes nothing and that the Scot will still likely leave this summer.
As a result, Arteta plans to dip back into the transfer market to strengthen his Gunners defence. And per reports, the Spanish coach, alongside sporting director, Edu, have identified two possible additions.
Top of Arteta’s wishlist is versatile Manchester City star Cancelo. The Portuguese has fallen out of favour under Pep Guardiola, having spent the second half of last season on loan at Bayern Munich.
And while they did not take up the option to sign him permanently, his chances of rekindling his career at the Etihad appear bleak. Arsenal were strongly linked with Cancelo earlier this summer before instead signing Timber.
Reports on Friday, however, suggested a fresh approach from Arsenal for Cancelo was on the cards in light of Timber’s injury.
Barcelona to beat Arsenal to Joao Cancelo deal
Spanish reports, however, tell a very different story. They believe Barcelona remain the favourites to sign Cancelo, having earmarked the versatile star for their rigth-back vacancy.
Xavi Hernandez’s side are now ready to accelerate talks to sign the 29-year-old, who is rated in the €50m bracket. Barcelona’s plan is to talk City into a loan deal which will give them an obligation to make his signing a permanent one next summer.
The Real Valladolid star has been the subject of intense speculation for several months now with plenty of sides casting admiring glances the teenager’s way.
Strongly linked with Arsenal in January, it is thought he could come back into their thinking following the injury to Timber.
However, any attemps to sign him would appear to have arrived too late amid claims from Mundo Deportivo that a move to Chelsea is now closing in.
They claim Mauricio Pochettino’s side plan to sign Fresneda before loaning him out to further his experience, potentially even keeping him at Vallodolid for the 2023/24 campaign.
And while he previously had a €20m asking price on his head, MD claims he can now leave for half that price with the LaLiga side in favour of a deal that would allow him to return for a season.
Any deal would also likely contain bonuses as well as a future percentage of any sale.
They claim Fresneda is also ‘in a hurry’ to finalise his future with a move to Stamford Bridge likely.
Arsenal, meanwhile, will be left empty-handed and having to explore other options in their pursuit of more defensive cover.