Arsenal transfer news: Gabriel deal, midfield targets

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There have been very early discussions between Arsenal and Gabriel Magalhaes’ representatives over a new contract. Nothing is close, with the focus for Arsenal right now purely on finishing the season and trying to win the Premier League. But the possibility of sitting down to start negotiations have been raised and I would expect those talks to start during the summer.

Edu has done superb work in ensuring that Arsenal’s talented young squad are all tied down to long-term deals, it’s something he sees as essential. It’s not just about protecting the club either. Yes, Arsenal want to know that their best talent are secured to long-term deals, but Edu is very big on ensuring players are rewarded for their performances and paid what they are worth. And in Gabriel, Arsenal have one of the very best defenders in the league.

He only signed his last deal a couple of years ago, so there is no rush in terms of how long he has left, but in those two years since signing he has developed into one of the best centre-backs around. William Saliba gets most of the headlines at Arsenal, but Gabriel has been equally as impressive this season. In fact, in my mind anyway, he has had the better season of the two. He has been one of the big recent success stories at Arsenal.

The deal to sign him from Lille for just £27m in 2020 has proven to be an absolute bargain. It could have been very different though because Gabriel almost ended up at Everton. He passed a medical ahead of a move to Goodison Park, only for the coronavirus pandemic to delay his switch to Merseyside. With football shut down, the transfer wasn’t finalised and just a few months later, Arsenal made their move and Gabriel opted for a switch to North London and has been an integral part of Arsenal’s rise back towards the top of English football ever since.

What Arsenal in terms of their midfield will be one of most interesting aspects of the upcoming summer window. They will certainly have to do some business, given there are doubts over the futures of both Thomas Partey and Jorginho, while the out of contract Mohamed Elneny will certainly leave.

They have been tracking Martin Zubimendi at Real Sociedad for a while now and he does have quite an attractive release clause, but it is far from clear whether he actually wants to leave Sociedad at this point and other clubs are also interested. So that might not be the easiest deal to do.

Several other names have been linked, including Youssouf Fofana – who is expected to leave Monaco. Fofana was great against Arsenal in the Emirates Cup last summer and I’m sure that performance would have made an impression on those at the Emirates, I’m not convinced that will mean they make a move for him, however. There is reported interest in Bruno Guimaraes at Newcastle, who I think would be an excellent addition. But with a release clause of £100m that has to be activated between the end of May and the end of June, he feels a bit pricey to me.

Declan Rice has been superb since joining Arsenal

The more I see of Declan Rice, I do think that Arsenal should focus on a No.6 this summer. That’s the position Declan Rice was signed to operate in, but in my mind he’s shown he has far too much to his game to have him just sitting in front of the back four. He can be so dynamic in the No.8 role and can be such a threat in the final third. The more I see of him playing there, the more I think that could be his long-term position. He’s taken to it so well and will only get better the more comfortable he gets playing there. So I’d be looking for a new No.6. Someone who can come in and play behind Rice – a new long-term successor to Thomas Partey.

Marcus Rashford’s name seems to pop up now again on social media in connection with Arsenal. There’s not really been any links in terms of a transfer, but it seems to be a talking point amongst fans from time to time.

We’ll have to wait and see if his future lies away from Old Trafford, but if he does go, I don’t see Arsenal as a possible destination. He’s on big wages and I just don’t see Arsenal going near them. A forward who can play out wide is certainly a priority for Arsenal, but I don’t see that being Rashford.

Arteta has shown with the job he has done turning Kai Havertz around that he can revitalise careers that had seemingly started to stagnate and I have no doubt he could probably do that with someone like Rashford as well. But having said that, I just don’t see Rashford being worth the gamble.

I think Charlie Patino will leave for good this summer. It was very close to happening last summer. That was the plan at the start of the window, but as the window went on it was decided that he would be sent out on loan again.

Talks are planned for the end of the season, but I would be very surprised if Patino is still an Arsenal player when the summer window closes this time around. He will still have one year left on his deal and as far as I’m aware, a new one won’t be signed. So it just feels inevitable that he will leave on a permanent basis.

It will be a shame because he’s a big talent and maybe he could have been managed a bit better. There did feel like there was an opportunity to give him a bit more game time, or at least have him around the squad a bit more to see how could have handled the step up. The decision not to take him on the pre-season tour in 2022 was a strange one in my eyes and I’m not sure things ever really recovered from that.

He’s had a couple of years of Championship football since then with Blackpool and Swansea and things haven’t always gone smoothly for him on those loans, but they would have been great learning experiences for him and he’s clocked up a lot of playing time at a high standard. So the time feels right this summer for him to move on and really try and kickstart his career and that’s what I think will happen.

Sunday’s North London derby was just a crazy game. There can’t be a more chaotic game in the Premier League than Arsenal vs Spurs. It’s a game that always guarantees goals and talking points and Sunday was no different.

It was a really odd game, one that was quite hard to properly analyse. I didn’t think Arsenal were very good to be honest, especially in that first half, yet they went in to the break 3-0 in front. Then I thought Spurs were pretty poor in the second half, but they ended up getting themselves back to within one goal of Arteta’s side, although that was down to two ridiculous errors more than anything else.

But for Arsenal, it was just about winning. The performance really doesn’t matter at this stage of the season. They just have to take care of their own business and hope someone takes points off Manchester City somewhere. And that’s what they did at Spurs. They went there under huge pressure and they got the job done.

I thought Kai Havertz was outstanding. It wasn’t just his goal, or his assist. It was his all round play in that No.9 role. He was exceptional all afternoon. It was a really impressive individual performance from a player who is now one of the key driving forces behind Arsenal’s title pursuit.

He’s delivering in the big moments at the business end of the season and no-one would have predicted that during those difficult couple of months at the start of his Arsenal career.

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