Reports linking Arsenal with a potential £40 million deal for one of the Premier League’s most gifted midfielders may suggest that, behind the scenes, all is well regarding the Gunners’ finances.
Look a little closer, however, and it’s clear Arsenal are being forced to tread carefully in their pursuit of marquee signings.
A deal for Ruben Neves will only be possible if Mikel Arteta, Edu and co are able to raise funds via the sales of Granit Xhaka and Crystal Palace target Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The potential arrival of Sander Berge from Sheffield United, meanwhile, looks increasingly unlikely with the Blades turning their nose up at Arsenal’s attempts to pay the £35 million transfer fee via a series of instalments, a la Nicolas Pepe.
In a boost to the club’s coffers, however, it seems Xhaka is on the verge of a departure that would see Arsenal receive a cash windfall potentially in excess of £20 million (Sky Sports).
Roma are expected to announce the arrival of a man who will share a dressing room with Jose Mourinho next season – the footballing equivalent of dropping a handful of mints into a two-litre bottle of Pepsi.
Arsenal deal for Zakaria may be ruined by Xhaka’s move to Roma
But while Xhaka’s impending move to the Italian capital may improve Arsenal’s chances of landing Ruben Neves, it does their long-standing pursuit of Denis Zakaria no good at all.
In May, 90Min reported Arsenal were willing to offer Xhaka to his former club as part of a deal that would see Borussia Monchengladbach’s Switzerland international contract rebel up sticks and head to London after years of on-again, off-again speculation.
Selling Xhaka to Roma instead, however, means Arsenal may just have handed their bargaining chip to Jose Mourinho.
With Liverpool and Manchester City also after Zakaria, who has only one year left on his contract, it’s hard to imagine the box-to-box dynamo choosing Arsenal over a pair of currently superior clubs, both of them capable of offering European football.
“It’s not easy to compare (Zakaria) to the greats of the past, but he combines many qualities that were really defined by Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane,” Gladbach teammate Yann Sommer told the Bundesliga’s website.
It looks as though Arsenal may have to make do with Neves instead. Let’s just hope his debut season at the Emirates is better than his final one at Molineux.