Sunday, July 21, 2024

Riccardo Calafiori linked as transfer stories start dripping

Morning. Without any Euro 2024 action yesterday or today, there’s some Arsenal focus for today’s blog, and it looks like there’s a little bit stuff beginning to drip when it comes to transfers.

The main story is widely reported interest in Italian defender Riccardo Calafiori. The Bologna man impressed at the Euros, despite the fact Italy were pretty poor throughout, and a host of sources are saying we’re in talks etc etc. I’m a little wary, because Serie A to the Premier League isn’t a pathway many Italian players take, and even less so to Arsenal. However, there’s a lot of smoke around this one, so perhaps there is some fire.

On the most recent Arsecast Extra, James spoke a little about incoming business being somewhat tied to outgoing business, and it’s hard not to think that might well be the case here. As it stands, Arsenal are well-stacked with left-sided defenders. Gabriel is the main man at LCB, we have Jakub Kiwior who can play there too, as can Takehiro Tomiyasu. The latter pair have also featured at left-back, where we also have Oleksandr Zincheko on the books, a stricken Kieran Tierney whose future looks complicated because of that injury, and Jurrien Timber as another option.

So, it’s hard not to think that if there is genuine interest in Calafiori, someone significant from that group has got to depart. Zinchenko was on the outs during the run-in and it has been suggested he could be up for sale with just two years left on his deal and no sign that the club want to extend him, while Kiwior has – more than once – been linked with a move back to Italy. We signed him from from Spezia in January 2023, and names like AC Milan and Napoli have been mentioned as interested parties.

I suppose another thing to consider is that Mikel Arteta is kinda the reverse Arsene Wenger, in that there’s been so much focus on adding a striker and a midfielder that bringing in another defender seems on point for this manager. If he sees Calafiori as a left-sided Ben White, that would make some sense to me – particularly in the context of previous reported interest in bringing in a left-back this summer. Wenger, as we saw more than once, often had the need for more defensive strength, but would decide the best thing to do is sign a mercurial attacker who liked to eat biscuits. Anyway, I suppose it is one to keep an eye on, and Chelsea are reportedly interested too – but then I heard from very reliable sources they tried to sign the entire celebrity contingent from Soccer Aid until someone had a word with Todd Boehly.

The rest of the stories are about players on the way out. First, Albert Sambi Lokonga is heavily linked with Sevilla, with the player happy to go there, but with details still to be finalised between the two clubs. It looks like it might be a loan deal with a purchase clause attached, but how that is triggered and what the final price might remain unclear right now. There’s talk of Sevilla suggesting £8m and Arsenal holding out for £12m. Meet in the middle lads. If only Sambi was called Bob Smith and had never played a game of football in his life and was an actual apprentice electrician, we could have sold him to Aston Villa for £40m.

Fulham, soon to be flush with cash from selling Joao Palinha to Bayern Munich for £47m (what a price that is for a 29 year old btw), are reportedly keen on Emile Smith Rowe and have made him a major target for the summer. I’ve written about him before, more than once, and if the right offer was on the table, I think it would be the right thing for the club to accept, and the right thing for the player to move. Let’s see.

Finally, Nuno Tavares is being linked with a move to Ajax by Sky Sports. It’s the Kaveh lad, so take whatever sized pinch of salt you like with it, but you could see how it would work out for all concerned. As I’ve outlined above, Arsenal have an abundance of left-sided defensive options, and with just a year left on his contract, it’s probably an easy deal to do if the reported interest is real.

Anyway, time will tell – and it may well be a case that today sees our first (number 1) official signing of the summer, although it’s one that won’t be any kind of surprise. Let’s leave it there for now, back tomorrow with more and an Arsecast.

Until then.

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