The race to sign Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli is fast becoming one of the most talked about topics in this summer transfer window.
After playing a starring role in Italy’s run to the final of Euro 2020, which will see them face England at Wembley on Sunday evening, the central-midfielder has been attracting plenty of attention, both from Arsenal and Serie A giants Juventus.
Both clubs are showing a strong interest in laying their hands on the talented box-to-box 23-year-old midfielder, with him having proven in the last few weeks that he has plenty of potential.
Last week, it was confirmed that Arsenal had tabled an “official bid” for Locatelli by Sassuolo chief executive Giovanni Carnevali, who admitted that it was also an “important” one.
“Arsenal have made an official bid for Locatelli,” Carnevali told Sky Italy. “They’re pushing hard to sign Manuel and it’s an important bid… we will see.
“Juventus also want Locatelli and we have a special relationship with them. A new meeting has been scheduled with Juve.”
Since making that admission about the Gunners lodging an official bid last week, Carnevali spoke to the media again on Thursday to issue another update on Locatelli’s future.
Interestingly, the Sassuolo chief revealed that they are in talks with a non-Italian club to sell Locatelli, potentially hinting that it could be Arsenal, although he did not reveal the identity of the club in question.
He said: “We’re in talks for Locatelli with one club from abroad… and it’s really advanced.
“We’re going to meet with Juventus in the next days, but there are no negotiations yet with Juve as Italian clubs are in a difficult financial situation.”
Although it is possible that Arsenal could be the unnamed club in advanced discussions with Sassuolo to sign Locatelli, who has scored two goals at Euro 2020 this summer, the midfielder is understood to favour a move to Juventus, who are very keen on landing his signature.
However, although Juventus want to sign him and Locatelli has his heart set on a move to the Italian giants, it is possible that their current financial predicament could see Arsenal handed a welcome boost.
As well as that, transfer expert and journalist Fabrizio Romano has revealed that Locatelli has not refused to rule out the prospect of joining Arsenal, despite Juventus being his preferred destination.
Appearing on the Don Robbie Podcast, Romano said: “I can confirm that Arsenal want Locatelli, they consider him a perfect player for Arsenal and the Premier League.
“But at the moment Arsenal have a smart strategy with Locatelli, the only one they can have in this situation.
“So they are waiting to see what happens with Juventus, because the player’s priority is Juventus.
“Locatelli wants to join Juventus, but he isn’t refusing Arsenal, he has the dream of playing Champions League football and joining Juventus because he is Italian.
“But, if they can’t find an agreement, Sassuolo would be open to accepting bids from Arsenal, it will be up to the player.
“So keep an eye on Arsenal, because they are just waiting, they are respecting the player, but after this meeting with Juventus we will have some answers about Locatelli’s situation, Arsenal are still there and are still very interested.”
The news that Locatelli is refusing to rule out the prospect of a move to the Emirates Stadium has to be seen as good news for the Gunners, as it means they certainly remain amongst the leading candidates to sign him if Juventus cannot finance a deal.
Previously, Locatelli has refused to rule out the prospect of playing outside of his own country.
The summer window is officially open, and it’s going to be tough to keep up with the comings and goings in and out of the Emirates.
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Asked if he would ever consider playing outside of Italy, Locatelli said: “Why not?
“Playing abroad is an option for me and I’m not closing the door to anything. I don’t like to speak too much about the transfer market because that concerns my agents and the Sassuolo management.
“I don’t know whether this will be my final year here or what the future has in store. When and if the opportunities are there, we’ll evaluate them together.”