Arsenal plan to bolster their midfield in January with the acquisition of Martin Zubimendi, all but dashing Barcelona’s hopes of signing the Real Sociedad man.
Arsenal and Barca have both been tracking Zubimendi for some time.
The Gunners moved for other targets in the summer, however, signing Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber from West Ham, Chelsea and Ajax respectively for a combined €230 million.
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Barca coach Xavi identified Zubimendi as his first choice to replace the Inter Miami-bound Sergio Busquets, but the club’s financial direr straits meant they had to settle for the €3.4m Oriol Romeo from Girona instead.
Amid that interest, Sociedad handed Zubimendi a new five-year contract last October that included a €60 million release clause, and only one of the two suitors in question can afford to meet it.
Martin Zubimendi vs Girona
· Sees Aihan Munoz ‘free’ on the left side
· Switches play to attack the space
· Supports the combination play
· Intelligent movements to escape the cover shadow
· Line-breaking pass to Mendezpic.twitter.com/fRgThqyxPm
— MT (@MT_Analysis) September 14, 2023
Zubimendi a priority for January
“After securing all of their desired signings, Zubimendi has climbed to the top of [Mikel] Arteta’s January shopping list,” report Catalan sports daily El Nacional. “According to sourced close to the club, they are willing to pay the full clause of €60m.”
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Despite spending big money on Rice, Arsenal need to bolster further at defensive midfield.
Granit Xhaka left in a €15m move to Bayer Leverkusen and Jorginho looked likely to follow him out of the club this summer with clubs in Turkey credited with an interest in the little-used Brazilian.
Thomas Partey had been getting minutes as a hybrid midfielder/right-back, but injury to him as well as Ben White’s re-emergence in the position means that he might not get back in the team, in which case it is understood he would like to pursue a transfer to Juventus.
Romeo aside, Barca were restricted to free transfers – Ilkay Gundogan and Inigo Martinez – and loans – Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo – this summer.