Arsenal are plotting the signings of three South Americans next season as Mikel Arteta and Edu Gaspar plan a summer overhaul of the Gunners’ squad.
Arsenal have decided to strengthen their squad with one midfielder, one centre back and one forward next summer. The Gunners hope to make other signings in other areas, but those have been identified by Arteta as priority ahead of next season.
The Gunners have lost Matteo Guendouzi to Olympique de Marseille and could lose Mohamed Elneny when the season ends. They are also looking to sign back up centre back options for Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White, with Rob Holding and Pablo Mari not certain to remain at the club in the summer.
The Gunners are also going to lose their last remaining strikers, captain Alexandre Lacazette and academy graduate Eddie Nketiah, who have decided to leave for free in the summer after their contracts expire.
Arteta and Edu have been hard at work at identifying players who will replace the departing ones and fit into Arsenal’s playing style. Their search has taken them once again to South America, where they have identified one player each in the three key areas they want to sign players for.
Lucas Paqueta to replace Granit Xhaka
Olympique Lyonnais’ Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta is being touted as a replacement for ex-Gunners captain Granit Xhaka, who still has a running contract at the club. Edu is looking to sign Paqueta and sell Xhaka in order to recoup some cash for the Swiss international before his contract expires in 2023 and he leaves for free.
Paqueta is valued at £66 million and is also being targeted by Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle United. However, the Gunners are reportedly in the lead to sign Paqueta thanks to Edu’s efforts, according to journalist Jorge Nicola.
Paqueta has been in Europe for four seasons after a stint at AC Milan and now Lyon, but he is the prime example of Arsenal’s focus on rebuilding with South American players next season.
The former Flamengo man can also play as a supporting striker/centre forward and a right midfielder/winger despite being a natural central midfielder. His signing could provide a number of solutions for Arteta, who has had to deal with a lot of fitness issues in his three years as Arsenal manager.
Arsenal travel to Paraguay to scout youngsters
Arsenal are also looking at two youngsters playing in their home country of Paraguay for their forward and defence positions next season.
Argentinian-based newspaper Cronica reported that Arteta sent scouts led by the club’s South America liaison/chief scout Everton Gushiken to look at Cerro Porteño’s young centre-back Alexis Duarte and Libertad’s young striker Julio Enciso.
Both sides occupy the first and second places in the Paraguayan league and are two of the standout performers in the league.
Cerro Porteño values Duarte at £3 million while Libertad will only listen to offers of £7.6 million and above, according to the reports. Enciso has already attracted lots of interest from the Premier League and was close to joining Brighton and Hove Albion in January.
Only in his second season as a senior player, the 18-year-old forward has scored 10 goals in 10 games so far in the Paraguayan Primera Division this season, making a big jump from his debut senior football season where he netted eight goals across 39 appearances.
Meanwhile, Duarte has helped Cerro Porteño keep seven clean sheets in 11 appearances in the Paraguayan league to grab the top spot this season. In the clash which Gushiken and the other Arsenal scouts watched, Duarte’s side ran through Enciso’s side, scoring four unreplied goals on the night.
It remains to be seen what Arsenal will do after observing both youngsters, but it is obvious that their focus is on South America as they make plans to revamp their squad.