Exclusive: “The more I see…” – Arsenal urged to make signing to complement new Declan Rice role

Arsenal have been urged to move Declan Rice into a number 8 role in midfield for the long term, meaning a new number 6 signing makes the most sense for the club this summer.

That’s the view of Arsenal FC expert Charles Watts, who has spoken exclusively to CaughtOffside for his latest Daily Briefing column to provide us with some insight into what the Gunners could do in that position in the upcoming summer transfer window.

Martin Zubimendi is mentioned as a long-term target, while Watts also responded to the transfer rumours linking Arsenal with the likes of Youssouf Fofana and Bruno Guimaraes.

Fofana seems set to leave Monaco, according to Watts, who also says he’s a big fan of Guimaraes, even if he thinks the Brazil international’s release clause at Newcastle United could make things tricky.

In general, it seems the important thing for Arsenal is to get the best out of Rice, and so the kind of midfielder the club bring in this summer needs to complement the England international, who has broadened his game a lot under Mikel Arteta this season.

Rice position key to Arsenal transfer targets in midfield

Declan Rice has been superb since joining Arsenal

“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,” Watts said.

“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.”

On Rice, Watts added: “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.”

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