Arsenal have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Martin Zubimendi, who is unwilling to leave Real Sociedad this month.
The Lowdown: Zubimendi’s future
There has been talk about the midfielder moving to a number of different Premier League clubs, with Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag known to be an admirer, while Chelsea have also been linked with a move for the Spaniard.
The Latest: Arsenal snubbed
According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal have been snubbed by the Spaniard, despite the Gunners’ willingness to meet the £52.5m release clause required to secure his services.
The boyhood Sociedad fan does not want to abandon his team while they are enjoying a strong season in La Liga, and even though his agents were in London on Friday, the deal now looks set to be put on hold until the summer.
The Verdict: Blow for Arteta
Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka have struck up a fine relationship in the Arsenal engine room this season, ranking fourth and sixth in the squad respectively in terms of average match rating (Sofascore), but Mikel Arteta could still do with some more midfield options to enable squad rotation.
There is every indication that Zubimendi could immediately challenge for a starting berth, judging by his performances with Sociedad, being lauded as a ‘special‘ player by journalist Sid Lowe earlier this season.
The Spaniard particularly flourishes in his defensive duties, averaging 1.92 clearances per 90 in the past year. He is also an imposing presence in the air, ranking in the 93rd percentile for aerial duels won compared to other midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues.
A move still seems as though it will be possible in the summer, but Arteta may well be disappointed not to be able to land the maestro this month, given that he will need more strength in depth when the fixtures pile up as the Gunners’ Europa League campaign resumes later in the season.