Mikel Arteta can hold hope for Leeds as he continues to rebuild Arsenal | Soccer | sport
Mikel Arteta is completely rebuilding his Arsenal squad, and the next position to reshape on his list is midfield. The Gunners were keen to sign Arthur Melo from Juventus in the January transfer window but no deal could be agreed, although it may have been a blessing in disguise for Arteta.
Jose Mourinho’s Roma were keen to sign Granit Xhaka last year but the Swiss international has remained at the Emirates Stadium but the Serie A side are expected to rekindle their interest in the midfielder. That would leave Arteta with just Thomas Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga to fill his two spots in the center of the park – unless he strips Martin Odegaard of his attacking influence and deploys him in a deeper role.
Summer signing Lokonga has shown glimmers of a potential star for the Gunners, but he certainly doesn’t have the experience to be one of the first names on the squad sheet. Mohamed Elneny is also an option but only if he renews his contract with the club otherwise he will leave on a free transfer.
Not signing Melo was far from catastrophic for Arteta and also gave the club the opportunity to sign Leeds star Kalvin Phillips. The 26-year-old jumped into the Premier League like a duck to water and his performances for England at Euro 2020 suggest he wouldn’t look out of place in the Champions League.
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Although the appointment of Jesse Marsch has seen Leeds improve, they are still in a relegation battle and another spell of poor form will see them clawed back into the dogfight at the end of the season. Phillips has only made 12 appearances this season due to injuries, which only underlines how important he is for the team.
90 minutes reported that the Gunners had shown interest in Phillips, and the chance to strike after the Whites endured a disappointing campaign might be too good an opportunity for Arteta to pass up. With the World Cup on the horizon, a consistently strong performance for the north London side would cement itself in the England squad.
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Speaking on the ‘The sailor says‘ Phillips podcast, Arsenal legend Lee Dixon said: “I love Kalvin Phillips, I’m a huge fan. I think he would be a good fit. I just like how versatile he is. [player].”
Although relegation now seems unlikely for Leeds, a finish in the bottom quarter of the Premier League table could force Phillips to reassess his situation. The midfielder is valued at £36million by Transfermarkt and could form a very solid partnership with Partey in the center of the park, allowing attacking players like Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka to thrive.