Who can unleash Rice now? Three EXCITING Arsenal alternatives after Zubimendi snub

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner
  • 31 May 2024 02:40 CDT
  • 4 min read
Mikel Arteta, Declan Rice, Bruno Guimaraes, Arsenal, 2023/24

Arsenal have taken a definitive transfer stance over long-time midfield target Martin Zubimendi, with Mikel Arteta’s side having decided to take a step back from chasing the Real Sociedad star.

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The Gunners have been linked with Zubimendi for months, with Arteta seeking a reinforcement in the midfield who corresponds to his qualities.

With Thomas Partey likely to leave Arsenal in the summer, it had been hoped that the Spain international would arrive at the club and leave Declan Rice to operate in the more attacking role in which he has thrived this season.

READ MORE: Romano reveals Man Utd & Arsenal target is 'almost guaranteed' to leave

Current ETV
Player image Martín Zubimendi
Martín Zubimendi


Real Sociedad logo

Real Sociedad

Martín Zubimendi
Martín Zubimendi


Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad


ETV Range

€32M - €53.4M

Zubimendi, though, would prefer a move to Barcelona or Real Madrid, and as such Arteta’s side are no longer chasing him.

With the 25-year-old off the table, who might Arteta turn to next?

FootballTransfers has teamed up with data analytics firm SciSports to examine the possibilities based upon the following criteria:

  • Defensive or central midfield player
  • Style is 80% or more similar to Zubimendi
  • High performance on finishing, offensive positioning and defensive positioning
  • Age 26 or younger
  • SciSkill of 98 or greater, matching Partey’s current ability

READ MORE: Five Arsenal targets to watch at Euro 2024

Who should Arsenal sign instead of Zubimendi?

Casting aside an option unattainable like Real Madrid’s Eduardo Camavinga, Rodrigo Bentancur of rivals Tottenham, and another that is highly improbable in the form of Sandro Tonali because of his gambling ban, Arsenal are left with three clear options.

  • Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle)
  • Manuel Locatelli (Juventus)
  • Amadou Haidara (RB Leipzig)

Bruno Guimaraes is a particularly interesting name given he is the one who corresponds most closely to Arteta’s desire to sign players with Premier League experience.

The Newcastle star, of course, has been closely linked with Arsenal already this summer. While the Gunners' interest has cooled because of the Magpies' insistence that the Brazil international’s release clause of €117.5 million (£100m), the financial position of the St James’ Park club could yet see a shift in policy to benefit Arsenal.

Bruno Guimaraes has been repeatedly linked with Arsenal
© IMAGO - Bruno Guimaraes has been repeatedly linked with Arsenal

Similarly, there have been tentative links between the Gunners and Manuel Locatelli.

Arsenal chased the Juventus midfielder in 2021 while his exclusion from Italy’s Euro 2024 squad gives the North London side plenty of time to negotiate a deal.

Haidara, meanwhile, offers a more leftfield option. The Mali international played 27 times for RB Leipzig last season but was one of the leading central midfielders in the Bundesliga, excelling particularly in a defensive sense.

With Arteta seeking to unlock Rice in an offensive sense, the former Salzburg man might be just what he needs to allow the England international to use his attacking capabilities, and with an Estimated Transfer Value (ETV) of just €23m, he could be one of the bargains of the summer.

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