Arsenal

Forget Raphinha, Arsenal can now sign ‘great’ alternative on a free transfer

Arsenal supporters must have been left feeling like the odd on out on Thursday.  

Because, while Chelsea have all-but secured the signature of Leeds United’s Raphinha from under Mikel Arteta’s nose, London neighbours Tottenham Hotspur agreed a deal to sign a Brazil international of their own.

Richarlison, according to Sky Sports, will become Spurs’ new record signing to the tune of £60 million. Antony, another spring-heeled Samba star, is expected to reunite with former Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag at Manchester United before the transfer window closes too.

Suddenly, the shelves look more bare than the Morrisons poultry aisle on Christmas Eve, Arsenal’s pursuit of a new left-footed right-winger – one who would hopefully represent an upgrade on the maddeningly mercurial Nicolas Pepe – hitting obstacle after obstacle.

But while Raphinha appears to have slammed the door shut in Arteta’s face – Chelsea doing what Chelsea do best, hi-jacking an almost done deal at the eleventh hour – a window of opportunity might just have opened up elsewhere.

 

WHAT NEXT FOR ARSENAL AS CHELSEA SNATCH RAPHINHA?

“Today a long chapter written together closes. And, as always happens in these cases, we thank you and wish you good luck for the future.”

So reads a statement on Juventus’ website on Thursday afternoon.

With Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata also on their way out of Turin, Federico Bernardeschi’s departure has flown somewhat under the radar.

The Italy international is older than Raphinha, and rather less prolific. But the chance to sign a player of his undoubted quality and elite-level experience for free – while saving funds for a new midfielder, a new left-sided centre-half and a full-back or two – is one that should give Arteta, Edu and co plenty of food for thought.

JUVENTUS RELEASE FEDERICO BERNARDESCHI

Arsenal were actually keen on Bernardeschi back in 2020, per Gazetta dello Sport.

The now-28-year-old wideman didn’t quite live up to sky-high expectations following his controversial £33 million switch from Juventus’ bitter rivals Fiorentina. But he retains an ability to bend games to his will. Whether that be with a defence-splitting through ball, an inch-perfect cross or a burst of acceleration.

Bernardeschi leaves Juventus amid a nagging sense of ‘what if’. Then again, so did Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski. And look at the impact they made down the road at Tottenham.

“Bernardeschi is strong,” former Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri said during his Scudetto-winning campaign at the Allianz Stadium. “He has technical and physical ability.

“He must find consistency and he certainly has to mature as a footballer. But I never had any doubts about his ability. I still think he can become a great.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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