Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta’s transfer priority emerges as club opens up on £34m rejection

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Arsenal may be about to move for a central midfielder in the transfer window after their failed attempts to land Manuel Locatelli were laid bare. Locatelli has joined Juventus on a two-year loan deal with an obligation to buy from Sassuolo, but only after the Gunners pushed hard to earn his services.

Arsenal have spent around £130million in the summer transfer window, with Martin Odegaard and Aaron Ramsdale joining on Friday to take their tally up to five new additions.

Odegaard was signed for an initial fee of £30m, with £4m in add-ons, from Real Madrid, while Ramsdale cost £24m, which could rise to £30m if certain conditions are met.

They have joined Ben White (£50m), Albert Sambi Lokonga (£17m) and Nuno Tavares (£8m) at the north London club.

That is a large outlay by Mikel Arteta’s side, but it seems they also want to add another central midfielder to the mix.

Locatelli joined Juventus on Wednesday in a free two-year loan deal, with an obligation to buy in 2023 for a £21million (€25m) fixed fee, plus £10.7m (€12.5m) in potential bonuses.

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The 23-year-old midfielder has been exceptional for Sassuolo for three seasons and starred for Italy in their successful Euro 2020 campaign.

It is those credentials which saw Arsenal offer £34m to Sassuolo, only to be turned down by chief executive Giovanni Carnevali.

“They offered us €40m, but Locatelli’s will was to go only to Juventus and we did everything to please him,” Carnevali told Gazzetta di Modena.

“A request, that of Arsenal, which cost us something…”

Carnevali went on to explain why Sassuolo accepted Juventus’ proposal, despite it seeming to be a weaker offer.

“[It’s] not easy to understand for those who do not have the skills,” he said. “This operation has brought a positive result and benefits to both clubs, even if certain technicalities are complicated to explain.


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“Surely it is wrong to say and think that we ‘gave’ Locatelli to Juve for two years. Someone even spoke of an immoral operation. These are senseless concepts.

“The reality is that at the end of the 2022/23 season for Juve, the obligation to sell will be triggered and we will be guaranteed to collect the over €37m agreed upon.”

With Locatelli now unavailable, it remains to be seen whether Arsenal will move onto other targets in the final 10 days of the summer transfer window.

Much will depend on whether they can offload fringe players to free up space in Arteta’s squad and earn funds which can be reinvested.

Hector Bellerin, Lucas Torreira, Sead Kolasinac, Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette are among those who could leave before the deadline on August 31.
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