After finishing eighth in the Premier League and missing out on a place in Europe for the first time in 25 years, Arsenal face one of the most important transfer windows in their recent history this summer.
The Gunners, who ended their Premier League campaign with five wins from their final five league matches to their name, have grand ambitions to turn themselves back into a more competitive force next season and compete higher up the Premier League ladder.
For that to happen, though, Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager, needs to make the most of this summer’s transfer window, both in terms of adding fresh blood to the squad and offloading those who no longer figure in his plans.
As reported by football.london last month, the Gunners have plans to bring in at least five new first-team players this summer, with Arteta keen to strengthen numerous positions within his squad.
As well as bolstering the left-back berth and central attacking-midfielder position being a top priority, the central-midfield role is in need of some improving. Following Dani Ceballos’ return to Real Madrid following his loan spell, and the likelihood of Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all being sold, signing a new central-midfielder is likely to be one of Arteta’s top focuses.
The Gunners are interested in Brighton & Hove Albion star Yves Bissouma and Sander Berge of Sheffield United, with both players said to be keen on moving to the Emirates Stadium if the opportunity presents itself.
However, reports in the last few days have linked Arsenal closely with a move for Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Ruben Neves. The Portuguese ace is, according to a report by the Mail, aware of the Gunners’ interest and would be open to a move, with Wolves set to want somewhere in the region of £35million.
Considering Bissouma is likely to attract an even bigger fee and Berge would also cost £35m, Neves could be seen as the ideal solution to strengthen Arteta’s midfield, add a sense of creativity to it and some aggression.
Should Arsenal pursue their interest in the Portugal international, lodge an official bid for his services and lure him to north London, the addition of him to the squad would almost certainly earn the seal of approval from Arteta’s former mentor, Pep Guardiola.
That is because the Manchester City boss has heaped praise on the former Porto man’s talents in the past, describing him as an “excellent player.”
“He’s an excellent player,” Guardiola said of Neves back in 2019. “It involves playing with two holding midfielders – not just one – but he’s an excellent player.”
Considering Arsenal already have one top-level holding midfielder in Thomas Partey, swooping for Neves could be just what Arteta needs.
Since Partey joined the Gunners in October last year, the Ghana international has often found himself struggling for a consistent partner in the engine room, with Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Ceballos often playing alongside him.
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In Neves, Partey would be guaranteed a partner that would compliment his talents and be a regular starter.
At 24 years old, Neves, you would argue, still has his very best years ahead of him. Although his 2020/21 campaign did not live up too much in a disappointing campaign for Wolves, his previous work in past Premier League seasons has given Arsenal’s fans optimism that he could be the player they lack.
The Portugal international is under contract at Molineux until the summer of 2023.