Arsenal could turn their attentions to a new target after suffering a devastating blow in their bid to sign Emiliano Buendia this week…
The Gunners have lost the race to clinch the Norwich City playmaker after he opted to join Premier League rivals Aston Villa in an initial £33m deal but the North London outfit reportedly have a fresh name in mind.
According to CBS Sports journalist James Benge, AC Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu is on their shortlist, he tweeted:
“Another target who Arsenal are understood to have broached internally is Hakan Calhanoglu, out of contract with AC Milan this summer. He is an option, not clear how high on the list he might be but [the] expectation is he’s an alternative to Odegaard.”
The 27-year-old, who is rated at £31.5m by Transfermarkt, is an intriguing solution to Mikel Arteta’s attacking midfield woes, not at least because he won’t cost Stan Kroenke and KSE a single penny in terms of a transfer fee.
And that could be important if Arsenal are to bolster the playing squad right across the pitch as we’re yet to see what sort of damage their failure to qualify for Europe will do to their finances.
Thus, signing a quality player on a free makes the world of sense to do right now, especially as he appears to fit a lot of criteria that Arteta is currently lacking.
Martin Odegaard was always going to be a short-term option, as much as the club want to keep hold of him, whilst Mesut Ozil was on a rapid decline prior to his long-awaited departure.
Calhanoglu has emerged as one of Milan’s star performers after registering nine goals and 12 assists across 43 appearances in all competitions this season, via Transfermarkt.
But perhaps more interestingly, his ability to progressively move the ball forward is what makes him most appealing.
The Gunners ranked 12th in the league for average number of shots per game (12.1) whilst they scored the second-fewest number of goals from set-pieces (six), as per WhoScored.
Calhanoglu averaged 7.92 progressive carries per 90 minutes (FBRef) and created a whopping 50 chances from dead-ball situations alone with a further 48 taking him to a total of 98 for the season (WhoScored).
It’s no wonder the 27-year-old’s head coach Stefan Pioli has waxed lyrical about his talents, he told reporters (via MilanNews.it):
“Calhanoglu is a leader of this team. He’s a leader on the pitch, he’s an intelligent player. Lately, we have faced teams that have closed the spaces and therefore, sometimes, I have had to lower him even though I want to keep him high.
“He knows how to marry perfectly with the game of his teammates. I have great respect for him and with intelligent players, you can play great games. He has the qualities to have some more goals.”
Also lauded as “generous and exceptional,” it’s evident that Calhanoglu would be a massive upgrade to Arsenal’s attacking midfield department and even though they missed out on Buendia, Edu Gaspar and co can alleviate the pain by landing the 5 foot 10 wizard for nothing.