Arsenal could sign Thomas Partey and also Amadou Diawara to allow Mikel Arteta to set up with two midfield screens to protect the back-line, club icon Kevin Campbell reckons. The Gunners have made three signings so far this summer with Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares and Willian all joining, while an announcement that a £27million deal has been completed for Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes has been completed is also imminent.
Arsenal are also set to bring Dani Ceballos back to the Emirates from Real Madrid on another season-long loan without an option to sign the Spaniard permanently at the end of the season.
Yet Arteta’s main summer target was Atletico Madrid holding midfielder Partey, who has so far proved unattainable due to his £45million release clause.
The Ghanaian destroyer, who can play in a box-to-box role and offers great physical and technical attributes, has still not signed the new contract on the table from Atletico.
And so hopes a deal could still be done are not yet dead, although there has been no real progress towards an agreement, with it said earlier this summer that Arsenal have had player-plus-cash bids rejected.
Atletico are refusing to let Partey, 27, leave for anything less than his release clause and do not want players in return despite being offered Matteo Guendouzi.
That has seen Arsenal boss Arteta, who is working on a restricted budget in the current market, look at alternatives with Roma’s Diawara a younger and cheaper option.
Diawara’s agent has confirmed that the 23-year-old is on Arsenal’s radar and that the player is pleased by links to the “prestigious” Gunners.
And former striker Campbell, who racked up 224 appearances for Arsenal and scored 60 times, has suggested that the north London club look to sign both Partey and Diawara to significantly strengthen their midfield.
“You’ve brought [William] Saliba in, you hopefully get Ceballos back in,” Campbell told Stadium Astro.
“You need a Thomas Partey back in that midfield for it to be a defensive rock. They might even get that Diawara from Roma as well.
“Now you’re talking you’ve got potentially two screens for that back four, Gabriel I think is going to be a key player if they can get that across the line.
“When it’s open season and you’re attacking teams, that’s when Arsenal are usually at their most vulnerable because they don’t have the legs when attackers run in behind off a breakdown.
“With Saliba and Gabriel, Arsenal can play a two-v-two at the back because they’ve got the pace, they’ve got the power to outmuscle and outrun people and keep the back door shut.
“That’s so important. You just look at Liverpool, they’ve been the best team, they’ve got [Joe] Gomez and they’ve got [Virgil] van Dijk, very rarely they ever get down two-v-two so that’s what you have to look at.”
Campbell would also like to see Arsenal sign another midfielder in the creative mould of Philippe Coutinho or Houssem Aouar, both of whom have been linked to the Londoners, but insists it is shoring up the defensive side of their game where his old club must prioritise.
He added: “I think that the Willian signing is important.
“There’s been rumours of Coutinho, he’s at Barcelona and Ronald Koeman has gone there and said everyone has a clean slate.
“I’m not so sure. If they could do Coutinho business, would I take Coutinho? Oh 100 per cent I would.
“Or is it Aouar, the lad at Lyon, they’re coveting him as well. There’s a few bits of business that Arsenal need to do.
“I think strengthening the spine of that team from defence to midfield is key because they’ve got the players up top now who can make a difference and are quite interchangeable.
“It’s those centre-back and central midfield spots where they are most vulnerable. As long as they strengthen there, I think Arsenal will have a good season.”
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