Arsenal’s hopes of signing Norwich City sensation Emiliano Buendia this summer appear to have reached their conclusion.
According to multiple reports in the national media this evening, Aston Villa have won the race for for the Argentina international, striking a club-record deal with the Canaries to secure his signature.
Like Arsenal, Villa saw an opening offer of around £30million rejected earlier this week, but refused to throw in the towel in their hopes of adding the 24-year-old to their armoury ahead of next season, making Norwich an increased offer of around £35m, plus add-ons, which has since been accepted.
Buendia has reportedly agreed personal terms with the Villa Park outfit and has undergone a medical, meaning the Gunners’ aspirations of luring the Argentine to the Emirates Stadium are all but dead and buried, unless his switch to the Midlands collapses at the very last minute which seems unlikely.
This is the first major blow that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu have encountered in their quest to bolster the squad this summer.
Buendia is a player that Arsenal had been long-term admirers of, first expressing an interest in him as far back as December. However, the Gunners can ill-afford to be too downbeat about their failure to win the race for the Norwich star, as Arteta has a huge challenge ahead of him in an attempt to transform the club’s fortunes.
Despite the disappointing blow of missing out on signing the 2020/21 Championship Player of the Season, the Gunners’ blueprint for this summer’s window is not thought to have changed.
As reported by football.london last month, Arsenal want to bring in five new first-team players this summer as a minimum, all of whom would bolster different areas of the squad.
Among the positions that Arteta has desires to strengthen, the goalkeeping department is one of them. The primary aim is to source a suitable back-up for current first choice shot-stopper Bernd Leno, with Mat Ryan’s loan spell at the Emirates Stadium having now reached its conclusion. Although it is possible that Ryan could return, the Gunners could pursue a move for a new first-choice goalkeeper if Leno leaves the club, something he is open to doing if the right offer presents itself.
Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana is believed to be the club’s number one target if they must seek a new first choice shot-stopper this summer.
As well as looking to strengthen between the sticks, Arsenal are also set to be on the lookout for both a new right-back and left-back.
Bolstering the left-back position was a top priority for Arteta during the January transfer window, as he looked for a suitable candidate to provide competition for Kieran Tierney. But despite being linked with a whole host of options, no deal ever came to fruition. This time around, it is understood that former Southampton man Ryan Bertrand remains a possible candidate to join the club, while Arsenal continue to keep tabs on Hibernian ace Josh Doig.
Signing a new right-back will also be a priority for Arsenal if Hector Bellerin leaves the club. The Spaniard is keen to depart the Emirates Stadium and test himself elsewhere, but finding a replacement may not be so easy.
Inter Milan’s Achraf Hakimi has been closely linked with a move to north London, as has Norwich City’s Max Aarons and Tariq Lamptey of Brighton & Hove Albion.
Strengthening the centre of midfield with a box-to-box midfield player, however, is thought to be Arsenal’s main focus. Following Dani Ceballos’ return to Real Madrid after his loan spell, and the prospect of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira all being sold, Arsenal are going to be light on options in the centre of the park.
Two names that have become leading candidates to strengthen the Gunners’ midfield this summer are Brighton ace Yves Bissouma and Sheffield United’s Sander Berge.
To Arsenal’s advantage, both players would be open to making the move to the Emirates Stadium if the opportunity presented itself, but their asking prices will not be cheap. Berge has a release clause of £35m in his Blades contract, whilst Bissouma is likely to be valued at around £40m.
Once again, departures will dictate whether or not a deal for either of those two is possible.
The final position that Edu has plans to bolster this summer is, of course, the attacking-midfield role, the position that they hoped Buendia would strengthen.
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Arsenal’s top target to strengthen that part of the team is Martin Odegaard, who spent the second half of this season on loan in north London from Real Madrid. But following Carlo Ancelotti’s recent appointment as Madrid’s new manager, it remains to be seen if Arsenal will have a chance of signing him this summer once again, either on loan or on a permanent deal.
If Arsenal fail in their attempts to land Odegaard, they will have to turn their attentions to alternative targets or hand the responsibility to Emile Smith Rowe, who could blossom in the No.10 role if it was to be his on a permanent basis.