Arsenal appear to be winning the race for one of their biggest long-term transfer targets, with reports that his current club have already sourced his replacement after learning that the player has ‘chosen’ the Gunners.
Although Arsenal’s biggest priority is perhaps to sign a number nine to provide them with a consistent source of goals, a successor to Thomas Partey in midfield has also been high on Mikel Arteta’s wishlist.
Arsenal made Declan Rice their record transfer during the summer and their outlay of more than €200 million on signings has meant that adding more players in January has proven difficult, with the club at the limits of their financial fair play constraints.
But Spanish outlet todofichajes, via El Nacional, have claimed that Arsenal will beat Barcelona, Aston Villa and Atheltic Bilbao to the signing of Real Sociedad star Martin Zubimendi, with a move more likely in the summer despite the Gunners attempting to sign him this winter.
The 24-year-old has been one of Arteta’s top choices to partner Rice in midfield but Zubimendi resisted the temptation to leave Sociedad in the summer, instead preferring to play in the Champions League for the first time with his boyhood club.
Zubimendi has a release clause of €60m in his contract and Sociedad are said to be ‘already getting used to the idea that they will lose one of their best assets’ and have made contact with Las Palmas midfielder Enzo Loiodice as a replacement.
Zubimendi ready to leave Sociedad
Often compared to Sergio Busquets, Zubimendi has established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe and Barcelona had attempted to sign the player to replace their legend during the summer.
Zubimendi had told all clubs, including Arsenal, that he did not want to leave Sociedad after leading them to Champions League football for the first time in ten years.
However, having helped Sociedad finish top of Group D ahead of a knockout tie against Paris Saint-Germain, Zubimendi is now open to a departure and has seemingly chosen Arsenal as his destination.
Arsenal will not be able to pay Zubimendi’s release clause this month without a substantial sale, meaning a move is more likely in the summer, when Arteta will also look to cash in on Partey and restructure his side’s midfield.