Arsenal’s needs in the summer transfer are multifaceted and encompass several positions on the field. The striking and forward areas without doubt the priority considering the thinness of the roles.
However, Arsenal also have a consideration in central midfield. Despite Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka having standout seasons, both have suffered lengthy spells on the sidelines due to injury.
Sambi Lokonga and Mohamed Elneny have both deputised with mixed results and the latter’s deal expires at the end of the season. The problem lies in finding a midfielder who upgrades on what the Gunners already have.
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Names such as Ruben Neves and Youri Tielemans have been linked but neither give the Gunners that serious step up in quality they should be targeting. Both have very solid central midfielders but if Arsenal want to close the gap to Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea they need even better.
This is why I find it so baffling that the club have not made the decision to pursue one of the untapped stars of European football. A player consistently linked away from a club where his talents are restricted and unleash him at the elite level.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has been at Lazio since 2015. Unsurprisingly he has become a central figure of the squad, even taking the captain’s armband on a number of occasions.
He has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid but never made the switch from Rome. His father spoke at the end of 2021 saying that the Serbian remained happy with the Italian side.
“He has grown a lot in these seven years at Lazio,” he told Portuguese publication A Bola via Squawka. “There is always talk of his departure, but the president has decided to keep him and he is happy at Lazio.
“Lazio is not as strong as they have been in recent years. Before the pandemic broke out, Lazio could have been champions that year, they should have taken advantage of it.
“Now they are paying for the adaptation to a new game system due to the change of manager, but as a former football player and person I never want to judge the quality of the coaches.”
Often operating in the right central midfield role, he is a versatile player who can play on the left and in a more advanced position. With Xhaka likely being the most vulnerable of Partey and Martin Odegaard in Arsenal’s midfield three, Milinkovic-Savic could certainly be deployed in the Swiss’ role to give the Gunners more going forward whilst not necessarily compromising the team defensively.
Yet there has been little to no mention of Arsenal looking at the player. This could be to do with his price which according to CIES ranks between €40m-€50m although the suggestions are Lazio would ask for even more.
His contract expires in 2024 and therefore there is no pressing desire to take a big fee. Lazio are in a race with Roma, Fiorentina and Atalanta for the European qualification places. Should they fail in their bid, the 27-year-old might be tempted to make the switch to Arsenal, especially if they reach the Champions League for next season.
Milinkovic-Savic remains one of the untapped talents of European football, a genuine world-class player. Arsenal and Edu should certainly be considering being the club to step up their efforts to bring the midfielder to north London.
Source by Football London