Mikel Arteta is ‘enjoying the moment’ as Arsenal open up five-point lead
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Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta may need to search for alternative options in the January transfer window after the agent of Manuel Locatelli insisted the Juventus midfielder will be staying with the club. The Italian star emerged as a potential transfer target over the summer as Arteta wanted to add another central midfielder to his squad.
The Spaniard has only Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Mohamed Elneny to rely upon for one of the most congested Premier League schedules in recent times. And with Partey suffering from recurring injuries, Arsenal have been left short of quality.
Arteta made a late move to bring in a midfielder before the transfer deadline but technical director Edu Gaspar – recently made sporting director by the club – struggled to find a suitable candidate within their £25million budget after failing to land Locatelli.
The player’s representative, Stefan Castelnuovo, revealed that he received offers from Premier League clubs for his client and, while he did not mention Arsenal by name, it is understood the Gunners were one of the teams that made an enquiry over the summer.
“It’s true that there were some good opportunities from England last summer, but the player has a solid bond with Juventus and never thought about leaving,” Castelnuovo told Tuttosport.
“He is an important player for the club which has always shown its appreciation. Manuel has improved a lot and his quality have emerged.
“We know Manuel is in the club’s plans and we are proud of it. We’ll make our assessments at the right time with calm and serenity.”
Locatelli emerged as a serious candidate to join the Gunners after an underwhelming first campaign with Juventus. He joined the Bianconeri from Sassuolo after starring at the Euro 2020 tournament in Italy’s historic triumph, but was largely used as a bit-part player by Massimiliano Allegri.
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However, he has played a more important role for the Serie A giants this season, with 17 appearances and three goals in 60 games for the club since his £17m transfer.
The club are now expected to offer him fresh terms with a five-year contract on the table and given his agent’s positive comments, Locatelli looks likely to sign.
That means Arteta will need to move on to other targets, having already missed out on Douglas Luiz after the Brazilian penned a new deal with Aston Villa. Jude Bellingham has been linked as an ambitious target, though it remains to be seen whether Arsenal can afford the £130m-rated midfielder.
Youri Tielemans, who is available to speak to clubs to discuss a pre-contract agreement from January 1, has attracted interest from the Emirates, as well as Palmeiras midfielder Danilo, who has been scouted by Edu and is likely to be within the club’s price range.
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