Arsenal’s January transfer window in 2023 was dominated by the Moises Caicedo saga, with the Gunners ultimately missing out on the Ecuador international midfielder, who was snared by Chelsea in the summer.
The Gunners snatched up Declan Rice from West Ham for a club-record fee of €117 million but manager Mikel Arteta has not given up seeking to strengthen his midfield with a player who displays the same characteristics as Caicedo.
The Sun reports the Gunners are willing to trigger the player’s €60 million release clause to get the deal done, albeit with a caveat that the deal could be delayed until the summer.
There was understandable disappointment at the Emirates as Caicedo followed the path trodden by Mykhailo Mudryk to move to Chelsea instead of Arsenal last January, yet the way the pieces are falling into place for Arteta’s side now suggests this was a blessing in disguise.
Zubimendi is Caicedo’s equal
According to data analytics experts SciSports, Zubimendi’s performance currently is near equal to Caicedo. Sure, he’s nearly three years older but at 24, there’s ample mileage left in his legs, particularly as he has only played around 170 first-team matches.
Interestingly, Zubimendi has been developing steadily since being exposed to Real Sociedad’s first team, with only brief periods of depreciation or stalling. The prospect of this continuing to rise as he gains experience, particularly at a high level, appears to be good.
This is reflected in SciSports’ analysis of him compared to other central midfielders in LaLiga. Using in-game data points, it is calculated that he is among the elite players in his position.
Where the 24-year-old Spain international is really interesting for Arsenal, though, is that he will cost around half the price of Caicedo. With a release clause set at €60 million, his value is a fraction of that of the Ecuadorian.
With the Gunners having to take into account Financial Fair Play (FFP), this could be an important factor in landing him given that they are also in the transfer market for a goal-scoring centre-forward and potentially a right-back.
Of course, it is unlikely that all three will arrive in January, with Zubimendi likeliest to be a summer target, but in this case, there is every chance it will be worth the wait.