Manuel Locatelli hands Arsenal transfer blow despite Mikel Arteta willing to pay £34m fee

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Arsenal are locked in a transfer battle with Juventus over Sassuolo star Manuel Locatelli and it seems the player’s wishes could determine the outcome. The Gunners are desperate to land a creative midfielder this summer and have homed in on Locatelli, but it seems there is a lot of work still to be done if they are to get their man.

Arsenal have completed the signing of Anderlecht midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga for a fee in the region of £17million, but the club are determined to add more players to their squad.

Ben White is expected to be the next arrival in north London, with Arsenal closing in on a £50m deal for the defender from Brighton and Locatelli is another target.

Martin Odegaard and Dani Ceballos’ moves back to Real Madrid following loan spells, as well as Matteo Guendouzi’s loan move to Marseille and the possible departure of Granit Xhaka to Roma has left Arsenal short in midfield.

Locatelli has starred for Sassuolo over the past three years and looks set for a transfer this summer after being a part of the Italy squad which won Euro 2020.

Juventus have long coveted the 23-year-old and, as Serie A’s big fish, always appeared the most likely destination.

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However, Juve’s offer of a loan for the 2021/22 season and obligation to buy next summer for £25.8m (€30m) does not interest Sassuolo, who want a transfer.

According to the Guardian, Sassuolo are holding out for £34.3m (€40m) – a price which the Gunners are willing to pay as they try to bounce back from a disappointing eighth-place finish last season.

Yet it is not that straightforward because Locatelli himself prefers Juventus, largely because they can offer him Champions League football.

Despite Uefa introducing an entirely new competition next season – the Conference League – Arsenal will play no European football in 2021/22.


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That fact puts Arsenal at an immediate disadvantage, as does Sassuolo’s “special relationship” with Juventus, which club director Giovanni Carnevali spoke about earlier in July.

“Arsenal have made an official bid for Locatelli. They’re pushing hard to sign Manuel and it’s an important bid… we will see,” Carnevali said.

“Juventus also want Locatelli and we have a special relationship with them. A new meeting has been scheduled with Juve.

“We are trying to leave the lad calm, so I haven’t spoken to him or his agents yet.

“We can think about Locatelli’s future, but above all we care about his present and that means Italy doing well at the Euros.”

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