Arsenal are hoping to go back to the Manchester City well again with Joao Cancelo their latest transfer target.
Mikel Arteta cut his coaching chops next to Pep Guardiola at the Etihad and earned the respect of City’s all-conquering squad. Since taking the reins at Arsenal, he has used that relationship to land two senior stars with Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko both arriving last summer.
And the two serial winners helped add an extra level of ruthlessness as the Gunners went from top-four pretenders to title contenders. But with their bid for the Premier League crown set to fall short, Arteta is ready for another transformative summer.
Arsenal led City for much of the season, but with the finishing line in sight, they have stumbled while Guardiola’s charges have turned into a winning machine. The Gunners’ defeat to Brighton last time out means the champions can retain their title with one more victory.
However, rather than rest on their laurels, Arsenal are ready to build from a position of strength to ensure this doesn’t go down as a one-season wonder. Arteta is looking to add even more quality during the summer window, with a number of positions on his agenda.
Full back is on his list, with the injury to Takehiro Tomiyasu partly derailing their attempt to win the league for the first time since 2003/04. Cancelo is a target for Arsenal, having been deemed surplus to requirements by Guardiola.
The Portugal international was a stunning departure in the final throes of the January window, with City allowing Cancelo to join Bayern Munich on loan for the rest of the season. He has failed to impress in Bavaria though, and looks certain to return to his parent club at the end of the Bundesliga season.
That has put Arsenal on red alert, who are desperate to add even more trophy-winning experience to their relatively youthful squad. In a sign of the progression under Arteta however, there is a fear from club bosses that City would no longer sell to a direct rival.
“Pep and Manchester City will never sell a player to Arsenal ever again,” Jamie Carragher said back in March. “The reason why Oleksandr Zinchenko was sold to Arsenal is because of Pep’s mate – and he didn’t feel Arsenal were a threat.”
Cancelo still has four years on his deal with City and so there is no need to accept a cut-price offer, with the slim possibility the manager could yet reintegrate him into the matchday squad.
Arsenal’s need for a right back is set to take on extra importance amid fears that Tomiyasu may not be fit until around Christmas. Ben White has been deputising on the right flank, which in turn has left them short centrally following William Saliba’s injury.
But while there are concerns over whether a deal for Cancelo could be struck, there is growing optimism that Declan Rice will become an Arsenal player next season. The West Ham skipper is Arteta’s top midfield target and the report adds that a bid of £92 million is expected to be lodged in the summer window.