Mikel Arteta identifies James Maddison alternative as Edu plots £25m Arsenal transfer bargain – Chris Davison

Despite impressive displays from Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny, in addition to the importance of a fully fit Thomas Partey, Mikel Arteta remains keen on strengthening his midfield this summer.

A report from The Athletic claims Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans is currently the top target for the No.8 role and with the player now heading into the final 12 months of his deal, club figures are believed to be in ‘favour’ of signing the Belgian international.

It’s added that talks with his representatives are also said to have offered ’cause for encouragement.’ Whether or not UEFA Champions League qualification is key to any deal remains to be seen, but his acquisition would make a lot of sense for Arteta and his squad.

READ MORE: Arsenal given transfer chance for ‘next Patrick Vieira’ amid Edu target’s Real Madrid desire

Although there’s an agreement that Arsenal’s overall quality in midfield is good, the depth certainly isn’t and that’s something that must be addressed heading into next season. Another important factor behind Tielemans potential signing is the lack of goals that come from the area.

The aforementioned Xhaka, Elneny and Partey are not goalscoring midfielders. They do offer certain qualities in an attacking sense, such as progressive play and box-to-box transitions, but goals are something of a rarity for them due to their more defensive instincts.

In fact, the trio only have 21 goals between them at the club, which is a pretty big deal considering they’ve made a total of 450 appearances. If Arteta needed another reason to secure Tielemans’ services, there he has it. To put things into context even further, he has scored more goals at Leicester in just 154 appearances.

Tielemans has consistently scored goals as a No. 8 everywhere he’s been at club level, racking up 41 in 221 appearances. He’s also known for his creativity, which has seen him provide 34 assists from the same position.

You can tell he’s a very forward-thinking midfielder when looking at his lack of defensive contributions at times, but Arteta and his coaching staff will no doubt improve that to balance out his overall game. Speaking of balance, the addition of Tielemans would leave Arsenal’s midfield in a healthier place. The former Monaco and Anderlecht man would add much needed attacking threat while more defensive roles are taken up just behind or alongside him.

There is an argument that the Gunners require two new midfielders this summer, but if Xhaka and Elneny stay put, I think the urgency won’t be quite there. It’s important to remember about Sambi Lokonga and his development, but things could of course change if he was loaned out.

I can understand why some people have reservations about Tielemans, but overall I think he would represent a very good signing. Premier League proven, technically gifted and a threat in front of goal, you can’t really go wrong for the £25m fee that has reportedly been set by the Foxes.

Arsenal’s interest in another Leicester midfielder, James Maddison was widely reported last summer before the services of Martin Odegaard were secured. Although he mainly operates as an attacking midfielder, he too can play more centrally and offer a goal threat. But it now appears that his teammate has emerged as the new favourite for a switch to north London in the coming months.

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