Arsenal have seen a significant change in the short space of time since Mikel Arteta replaced Unai Emery as head coach. Despite the struggles competitively in his first season and a half, the club is finally moving in the right direction, arresting the slide seen at the end of the former coach’s tenure.
Arsenal sit in the driving seat for the top four race this season and much of the reason has been the squad overhaul conducted by Arteta and technical director Edu. Players bought during the Emery and Arsene Wenger periods have been moved on and replaced by hungry young talent.
There is an emphasis on finding special players who will develop into world-class individuals in addition to the promotion of young stars from the academy such as Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and more recently Charlie Patino.
However, one player who currently resides with former head coach Unai Emery should be tweaking the interest of Arteta and Arsenal.
Villarreal’s Yeremy Pino lit up La Liga on Sunday night with a four-goal haul against Espanyol to send them up into sixth and the European qualification places.
The 19-year-old was linked with a move to Arsenal in November of 2021 as well as a swath of elite clubs from around Spain, according to El Nacional.
Real Madrid were said to be keen on securing a move for the player when his release clause was just €30 million (£25.8m), however, just days after the reports linking him with the Gunners Pino signed a new contract.
This increased the price by more than double the original release clause to €80 million (£66.9m), according to Football Espana.
In today’s market, a fee of this size remains accessible for Europe’s elite clubs but at just 19-years of age, Pino remains a huge risk for an investment of this size.
The four goals against the Catalan side was more than double the tally Pino has scored this season in la Liga in the previous 24 matches. He has also scored in the Champions League, which he helped Villarreal qualify for after beating Manchester United in the Europa League final.
He played the majority of his matches on the left during that season but has almost exclusively become a right-winger under Emery this campaign. Samuel Chukwueze has had to make do with a primarily substitute role in the wake of Pino’s rise.
From an Arsenal perspective, Pino’s versatility to play on either flank would appeal to Mikel Arteta as would his age profile. It is therefore unsurprising to see the Gunners linked with a move.
However, at present Arsenal are well stocked in the wide areas and the focus of summer investment will primarily target the central midfield and striker positions.
Yet, as it is understood by football.london that Arsenal are preparing a significant summer outlay with support from owner Stan Kroenke, perhaps there would be scope to push for a deal for Pino. Although it would almost certainly rely on Nicolas Pepe departing to make room for such a high-profile wide player.
Arsenal will hopefully be participating in Europe next season and the opportunity for Pino to get regular game time at a club like Arsenal may well be enough to attract his attention. Although Villarreal are in a very strong position in negotiations considering his newly signed contract.
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