Arsenal have been doing the groundwork on potential midfield signings ahead of the summer, with five names in particular being assessed by the club’s recruitment team, CaughtOffside understands.
The Gunners have been boosted by the improved form of Thomas Partey in a defensive midfield role this season, but there is an awareness that Granit Xhaka is not ideally suited to the more advanced role he’s started playing, while it’s long been felt that he could soon move on after being targeted by Roma last summer.
Arsenal would like a proper all-rounder to partner Partey, with sources close to the club informing CaughtOffside that work has been carried out on five midfield players to assess their suitability to that role.
The five players in question are Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips, Wolves ace Ruben Neves, Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa, and Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz, while Leicester City star Youri Tielemans remains under consideration, as we reported earlier this season.
While a striker, or even two new additions up front, are also a priority for Arsenal, extensive work has been done on finding the right midfielder, with no final decision made yet on who would be the strongest candidate.
Tielemans has been admired by Arsenal and other top clubs for some time, though there is an awareness that he’s allowed his form to dip from his usual high standards this season.
Interestingly, a source with close connections to Arsenal, but who is not involved in the recruitment process, already cast doubts over a potential deal for Leeds and England ace Phillips.
The 26-year-old has impressed at Leeds, but there is already the sense that stronger interest has been registered from some of Arsenal’s Premier League rivals, and that the north London giants are unlikely to break from their usual transfer structure to pay the kind of big money believed to be needed to persuade Leeds to sell.
“Phillips is a good player, but Arsenal would surprise me,” the source said. “The role, the system he’s performed in for Leeds and England is very different. It would require a big adjustment.”
Arsenal fans will undoubtedly hope that a decision can be made soon, but it seems clear at the moment that the club’s list of targets in all positions remains long, with a process of narrowing-down likely to come closer to the summer.