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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Arsenal target Zubimendi after Caicedo blow

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Arsenal could turn their attention to Martin Zubimendi as they are likely to have a second bid rejected for Moises Caicedo…

What’s the word?

The Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder has been banished from training and matches until February after he revealed his intention to leave the club before Tuesday’s transfer deadline, however, the Seagulls are holding firm with an £80m asking price despite two offers, per the Daily Mail.

Meanwhile, according to The Times, the Gunners are also interested in the Real Sociedad star, who is available at a far cheaper price of around £53m, thanks to his release clause.

Mikel Arteta wants to add depth to his engine room after Mohamed Elneny suffered a fresh injury, leaving him light on options behind the likes of Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey, who himself was withdrawn with an issue in Friday night’s FA Cup defeat to Manchester City.

Should Arsenal swoop for Zubimendi instead?

YES!

NO!

NO!

He’s the “new Busquets”

Whilst Caicedo is undoubtedly an immense talent and one that is proven in the Premier League, Arsenal chief Edu Gaspar could do little wrong in opting for the cheaper alternative in Zubimendi instead, particularly if it means the manager will be getting a midfielder this week instead of in the summer.

La Real’s 5 foot 11 anchorman has been dubbed as “the new Sergio Busquets” by journalist Jacque Talbot as for a long time, he has been considered the natural heir to the Spain international, having developed as a no.6 and box-to-box midfielder.

Speaking about Zubimendi’s undeniable talents, former Real Madrid star Xabi Alonso praised him by saying:

“Martin’s a player all coaches would want. He’s generous, he always thinks more about his teammates than himself. He has that ability to generate play, to make those around him better, always offering solutions; to improve the move. He understands what the next step is before the ball gets to him. He has that ability to organise, the axis.”

The 23-year-old has been a key cog in Sociedad’s push for third place in LaLiga this term, playing more minutes than any other outfield player and this has correlated into some eye-catching returns, having averaged 2.4 aerials won, 1.92 clearances and 1.5 interceptions per 90 over the last year.

This ranks him very favourably compared to other midfielders across Europe, including Caicedo who is very similar to in terms of statistical profile. Indeed, Zubimendi ranks inside the top 7%, 10% and 19% for those aforementioned statistics, all via FBref.

The Spaniard has also earned a likeness to Toni Kross, according to talent scout Jacek Kulig, who has also decried him as a “playmaker” with strong passing, vision and “tactical intelligence.”

Given the evidence above, Zubimendi could have everything that Arteta needs in a new midfielder and considering Partey’s potential absence, it’s a position that desperately needs improving before Tuesday night.

Caicedo is going to command way too big a price to get it over the line in time, so the Sociedad “baller” – as lauded by broadcast journalist Buchi Laba – is a perfect alternative at £53m. Therefore, Edu must turn his focus to signing Zubimendi with only a few days left in the window.

AND in other news, Arsenal could find their dream Partey heir with Edu “tracking” £26.5m “special talent”…

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