In pictures: Arsenal beaten in friendly by Hibs
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Arsenal have signed Nuno Tavares and are hopeful of adding both Ben White and Albert Sambi Lokonga in the coming days and weeks as they step up their transfer business – but they have yet to find a new long-term option in the No 10 role; another of their summer priorities.
Of their possible options for the position, Martin Odegaard has returned to Real Madrid after his Emirates loan while James Maddison is tied down for the long term at Leicester and free agent Hakan Calhanoglu swapped AC Milan for Inter Milan.
Houssem Aouar of Lyon is another target with his price tag having been slashed due to financial difficulties and the Gunners having wanted him last summer, but The Athletic say interest from the north Londoners has actually now cooled.
Per their reports, the Arsenal boardroom have not reached a complete consensus over whether or not the Frenchman is the right attack-minded fit for Mikel Arteta’s team.
The Gunners will therefore have to move on to alternative targets. Express Sport takes a look at five players who could provide feasible options this summer as Arteta seeks a player who can dovetail with Emile Smith Rowe as well as occasionally operating as the side’s only playmaker.
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Out of contract in a year’s time, Isco could be on the move this summer and for a bargain price unless he shows a willingness to sign a new contract.
Some reports have claimed the 29-year-old, with 336 Real Madrid appearances and 38 Spain caps, could be available for as little as £6million.
Carlo Ancelotti more recently has more recently hinted that he could get a chance, hailing his “great desire, excitement and hunger” in training.
Still, a bid might tempt Los Blancos to part ways with the classy long-serving attacker who can also operate as a central midfielder or as a winger, given he totalled just 1,092 minutes across 29 games last term for an average of just 38 minutes per appearance.
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Former Paris Saint-Germain academy talent Nkunku was looked at by Unai Emery in his early days at Arsenal with the pair having worked together in the French capital.
Nkunku has since spent the past two seasons with RB Leipzig having played in just about every role imaginable from central midfield, attacking midfield, right wing, left wing and centre-forward.
The dynamic 23-year-old Frenchman has produced 12 goals and 27 assists for Leipzig and a £27m price tag has previously been mooted for the player.
Nkunku’s versatility makes him one of Arsenal’s most exciting options although Leipzig have already lost several key players this summer in Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate.
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Paqueta only joined Lyon from AC Milan in the summer of 2020 but enjoyed a strong first season at the club, contributing 10 goals and six assists in 34 games.
The Brazilian, rated at around £31.5m by Transfermarkt, is under contract until 2025 but Lyon’s financial problems might tempt them into parting ways after only 12 months.
Still just 23, Paqueta – who scored Brazil’s winner as they reached the Copa America final earlier this month – has impressed in France after struggling to establish himself in Italy.
A quick and direct attacker, Paqueta’s struggles in Milan do not fairly summarise his talents and he can play as a No 10 in a 4-2-3-1 system or as a deeper midfielder in a 4-3-3.
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Long linked to the Premier League, Fekir almost joined Liverpool in 2018 and has been heavily tipped to move to the Emirates over the past two years. He’s currently out in Spain with Real Betis, where he has spent the past two seasons.
The ex-Lyon attacking midfielder, a World Cup winner with France, produced 11 direct goal contributions in 38 games last term after 14 in 33 the previous season.
The 27-year-old might be gettable given Betis finished 10th in La Liga last term though they’d likely still want to make a profit on the £17.7m they paid two years ago.
Fekir’s stock is not as high as it once was but he’s still a very talented forward who can play on the right or the left as well as centrally or as a centre-forward or a second striker.
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Turning 22 on the first day of August, the Austrian international has enjoyed an excellent last two seasons with Hoffenheim and even scored for his country at Euro 2020 in a 1-0 win over Ukraine.
Another versatile player, with Baumgartner capable of playing wide left, in central midfield, as an advanced midfielder or as a striker or second striker, he contributed nine goals and seven assists in 41 games last season.
Linked with Liverpool and Manchester United, Baumgartner has spent four years in Germany but said last month: “My clear plan is to play for Hoffenheim next season. I believe I have the biggest opportunity to develop further here. For me, that means playing consistently at a high level with more room for improvement.”
That might make it tricky for Arsenal to prise him, although an offer being tabled could sway the player’s thinking, and Hoffenheim would surely sell for a handsome profit on the nominal fee they will have paid AKA St Polten for him in 2017.
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