Arsenal transfer news: Calafiori interest, Ugarte links

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The current links with Riccardo Calafiori remind me of Arsenal’s interest in Manuel Locatelli a few years ago. The club liked Locatelli and had made that known to the player’s representatives, but they were always under the impression that he wanted to join Juventus. So while the interest was there, it never really went any further than that.

And that’s how I see things with Calafiori right now. Arsenal are interested in him and have expressed that interest. Bologna are aware of it and so is the player. Calafiori is seen as someone who could come in and strengthen Mikel Arteta’s defensive options this summer. But Arsenal know that there is widespread interest in him from other clubs, both in Italy and in the Premier League. So it will not be an easy deal to get done should Bologna agree to let him go.

It is one to keep an eye on though as the summer progresses and there’s no doubt it would be an exciting signing for the Gunners should they be able to pull it off.

Calafiori has obviously put himself in a shop window with his performances at the Euros. Several top clubs are looking at him, but the expectation right now is that he would favour a move to Juventus over all other options. At the moment there seems to be a bit of animosity between Bologna and Juventus, however, because of Thiago Motta’s decision to move to Turin, so Bologna are looking to make life as difficult as possible for Juventus as they look to lure Calafiori away as well.

For Bologna, it is of course very beneficial to have Arsenal and Chelsea looking at the player as that could strengthen their hand when it comes to any future negotiations with Juventus.

Arsenal are looking at possible new arrivals in defence this summer, but they have good options at the back and I don’t really see them spending big money on someone like Calafiori unless they move a player on and right now that doesn’t seem close to happening.

There is interest from Italian clubs in Jakob Kiwior, but it would take a sizeable bid to sign the Poland international, who impressed last season – especially over the closing months of the campaign.

A possible price tag of £50 million for Eddie Nketiah has been a big discussion point over the last week or so. I have to admit though, I’m a bit sceptical about that figure.

Arsenal are open to offers for Nketiah and I’ve always felt like this will be the summer that he does leave the club. I struggle to see someone paying £50m for him though.  That just feels a bit too high for me, although from Arsenal’s point of view it makes sense to value him as high as possible when it comes to any negotiations.

It’s simple business really, but I’ve not been told that the £50m figure is accurate.  Nketiah is a decent player though and I do think Arsenal should be getting good money for him this summer.

He’s still only 25 and he’s proven that he can score goals in the Premier League. He’s also improved his all round game massively under Mikel Arteta.

Eddie Nketiah in action for Arsenal

He just needs to go and play regularly now. If he does that, I have no doubt that he can make a big impact somewhere.

Crystal Palace are long-term admirers of the striker and he’s been close to going to Selhurst Park on more than one occasion in the last couple of years. Fulham, Brighton and West Ham are also believed to be interested.

At the moment Nketiah is over in Marbella with a handful of other Arsenal players as they prepare for the start of preseason. Arteta is with them and he has shown he has plenty of faith in Nketiah.

So I don’t think Arsenal will push him out of the door this summer, but they are certainly open to offers. Whether anyone will go as far as £50m though, I’m not so sure.

Granit Xhaka is deservedly getting the plaudits for his fantastic performances for Switzerland at the Euros. He’s been absolutely superb, just as he was for Beyer Leverkusen during their remarkable season in Germany in 2023/24.

Obviously people are looking at how he has been performing since leaving Arsenal and question whether the club made a mistake in letting him go.

I don’t think they did, although I’m convinced they would have won the title had he still been in North London last season.

The football he is producing now should be no surprise because he’s playing exactly as he did during his final two years with Arsenal. Mikel Arteta took his game to a new level and he has continued that under Xabi Alonso.

Ideally, Arteta would have liked Xhaka to have stayed at Arsenal, but Xhaka wanted to go. Arteta had managed to convince him to stay with the club 12 months earlier when the Swiss International was again pushing for a move. But he was unable to do the same in 2023.

Xhaka only had a year left on his contract and made it clear to Arsenal during the final few months of the 2022/23 campaign that he wanted a new challenge. Arsenal could have kept him of course, but then they would have lost him for nothing in the summer of 2024. So they had to let him go really.

It was just about trying to get the best deal possible for him, which I think they did when you take into account his age and contract status. A fee of £21.5 million was pretty decent.

Arteta was very loyal to Xhaka. The pair had an excellent relationship and had a great amount of respect for each other. So when Xhaka said he wanted to go, Arteta reluctantly agreed to allow it to happen.

Xhaka had spent a long time at Arsenal and at times his stay was very difficult. The way he turned things round and won over the supporters was an unbelievable redemption story and I think it was the right decision to let him go out on a high, especially with Declan Rice coming in.

I did smile to myself when I saw reports saying Manuel Ugarte had been offered to Arsenal.

It might well have happened obviously, but Arsenal are not in the business any more of signing unwanted players because they are offered to them by clubs or agents.

Arsenal’s transfer policy now is planned out months in advance and one thing they will not do is sign someone just for the sake of it.

I will be very surprised if they don’t sign a midfielder this summer. It’s an area they are working hard to strengthen, but I would be surprised if it’s a player that another club are just looking to get rid of.

Adrien Rabiot is another name that seems to be linked every few months and he is now on the market obviously as a free agent after his contract ended with Juventus. But I don’t see him being an option for Arsenal. He just doesn’t tick the right boxes when it comes to the type of profile they look for.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Martin Zubimendi once the Euros comes to an end. His future will be decided one way or the other and we know Arsenal are long-term admirers.

Getting him out of Real Sociedad won’t be easy, as he has suggested himself given his love for the club, but I don’t think Arsenal have totally given up hope on that one yet.

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