The number one transfer target of Mikel Arteta this summer has been revealed, though signing him could negatively impact a rising Arsenal academy graduate.
Arsenal are facing one of their most crucial summer transfer windows in recent memory. For the first time since 1995/96, the Gunners will be without European football next season after finishing below bitter rivals Tottenham in eighth place.
A late season flourish brought five consecutive wins to finish the campaign. However, the fans and board alike appear to be fully aware significant work is needed to once again challenge for top honours.
One bright spark since entering the first team on a regular basis around the turn of the year was Emile Smith Rowe.
The 20-year-old academy graduate put in a series of impressive displays and provided telling contributions. His most impactful performances resulted in a man of the match award versus Tottenham and scoring the matchwinner at Chelsea.
But despite Smith Rowe’s rapid rise, the Athletic now reveal that Arteta’s number one summer target would be direct competition for the youngster.
They report that Norwegian playmaker Martin Odegaard is top of the Spaniard’s wishlist.
Odegaard shone while on loan from Real Madrid last season, though saw his impact quelled by an untimely ankle injury.
Arteta has made no secret of his desire to land Odegaard. He previously detailed how his experiences last season could be a potentially decisive pull factor.
However, as the Athletic points out, the situation is out of the Gunners’ hands.
Odegaard’s current deal in Madrid runs until the summer of 2023. The recent resignation of Zinedine Zidane has thrown another wrench into the works. Whichever manager takes the reins may well deem Odegaard to be a critical part of the club’s rebuild.
Arsenal have already been linked with alternatives. Though it appears it is Arteta’s desire to do everything he can to land Odegaard before seriously considering switching attentions to other targets in the position.
Arsenal hunting fearsome Man City duo?
Meanwhile, Manchester City are preparing to offload both Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling this summer – with the pair both linked with Arsenal.
The Daily Mail claims Pep Guardiola is already making plans to freshen up his squad this summer.
They state he is willing to make a number of his players available for transfer. Sterling and Mahrez are reported to be the two biggest casualty names.
Sterling has lost his place in the side this season with Guardiola prefering Phil Foden on the left flank.
Mahrez, meanwhile, has been a regular but at 30 years of age, will have a decreasing valuation in the market. He has two years left on his deal and could consider himself unlucky to depart.
Incredibly to us, the Mail claims it is Arsenal who surprisingly lead the charge for both. They state the pair, valued at £60m apiece, will be the subject of a double approach from the Gunners.
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