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 Juventus’ Arthur Melo in the January transfer window but a deal couldn’t be agreed, though that may have been a blessing in disguise for Arteta.
Jose Mourinho’s Roma were keen to sign Granit Xhaka last year but the Switzerland international remained at the Emirates Stadium, but the Serie A outfit is expected to reignite their interest in the midfielder. That would leave Arteta with just Thomas Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga to fill his two spots in the centre of the park – unless stripping Martin Odegaard of his attacking influence and deploying 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 team sheet. Mohamed Elneny is also an option, but only if he renews his contract with the club or else he will depart on a free transfer.
Not signing Melo has been far from catastrophic for Arteta, and also provided the club with the opportunity to sign Leeds star Kalvin Phillips. The 26-year-old has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water and his performances for England at Euro 2020 suggest that he would not look out of place competing 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 poor spell of 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 highlights just how important a player he is for the side.
90min have reported that the Gunners have registered their interest in Phillips, and the chance to strike after the Whites have endured a disappointing campaign may be too good of an opportunity for Arteta to pass up on. With the World Cup on the horizon, consistently solid performances for the North London outfit would cement himself in the England team.
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Speaking on the ‘Seaman Says’ podcast about Phillips, Arsenal legend Lee Dixon said: “I like Kalvin Phillips, I am a big fan. I think he would be a good fit. I just like the way he is an all-round [player].”
Although relegation now looks unlikely for Leeds, a finish in the bottom quarter of the Premier League table could force Phillips to re-evaluate his situation. The midfielder is valued at £36million by Transfermarkt and could form a very solid partnership with Partey in the centre of the park, allowing attacking players like Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka to thrive.