Arsenal have shown real mettle in the window already with deals for Matt Turner, Marquinhos and Fabio Vieira all expected to be at the club for the preseason. However, there is yet plenty more to be done for crucial marquee positions including midfield, striker and wide forward.
The wide forward role has today dramatically increased in focus with Arsenal reportedly close to securing the signing of Raphinha from Leeds United. Goal have reported that Barcelona are no longer in the race and the Gunners expect to close a deal with the Premier League side ‘this week’.
Raphinha played the majority of last season on the right-wing and will come in as a competitor to Bukayo Saka. The England international was a tired figure at the end of last season with Arteta seemingly unwilling to rotate the 20-year-old with Nicolas Pepe.
READ MORE: Mikel Arteta’s £131.2m triple summer transfer plan to address Nicolas Pepe’s big Arsenal problem
Pepe meanwhile appears to be closer than ever before the exit door with the club. football.londonunderstands that the Ivorian changed agents this summer with the idea to ensure he could make a switch to guarantee more playing time.
Speaking recently he described his difficulties with the club. Highlighting that the language barrier was a problem and that , come to the end of the season, he would focus on his future.
“I am focused on how well we do until the end of the season and the club’s target, which is getting into the Champions League. Then we will see what happens,” he said prior to the end of last season.
“Mikel Arteta has explained that to me and the coach knows what I think and how hard I’m working. It is also about communication. Sometimes it’s not easy to communicate with the language barrier. It has been a tough season for me.
“Of course, it is frustrating not to play. No player enjoys not playing but I have to respect the coach’s decision and the team is doing well at the moment.”
Raphinha’s arrival would spell the end to any opportunity for Pepe to get more minutes on the right flank. Although links with potential suitors have been limited thus far.
Pepe’s high wages well exceeding £100,000 per week are difficult for European clubs in particular to match, especially if he is not willing to take a wage reduction. Both Marseille and Lyon enquired about the 26-year-old in January, but nothing came of the potential switch.
According to Spanish news outlet Superdeporte, Sevilla have also made contact with Arsenal over the signing of Pepe. Although, the Spanish side will be keen not to spend big on him.
Moving on from the club’s record signing is the best outcome for all parties and replacing him with someone who can compete and play with Saka will hand Arteta a serious asset in a season with four competitions to fight for. The early stages of the window are shaping up to be very interesting for the Gunners indeed.
Source by Football London