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Arsenal could sign their own Declan Rice in Manuel Locatelli

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is eyeing reinforcements ahead of the January transfer window and he may look to revive the club’s interest in Juventus midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

The Italy international was linked with a switch to the Emirates during the summer, with some reports suggesting that they had even bid for him, and has now reappeared on the Gunners’ radar, with his £91.5k-per-week contract set to expire at the Allianz Stadium at the end of the current campaign.

According to Calciomercatoweb, the north London giants could tempt him to join in the new year by offering the Turin outfit a swap deal for either Granit Xhaka, who has long been linked with the Old Lady, or Thomas Partey.

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It remains to be seen if that would entice the Serie A side into a sale or if any money would be involved but in the £44m-rated Locatelli, Arteta could be handed his own version of West Ham United and England sensation Declan Rice.

FBref liken his statistical profile to that of the 23-year-old, with the likes of Casemiro and Youri Tielemans as other comparable players.

And it’s easy to see why as Locatelli is currently Massimiliano Allegri’s fourth-best performer in the league at the minute, via WhoScored, where he has averaged a squad-high 2.3 tackles, as well as 1.3 interceptions and 0.9 shots per game.

This defensive stability and knack for drifting forward is very much how Rice has operated at the London Stadium this term. Indeed, the Englishman has averaged 2.4 tackles, 1.6 interceptions and 1.2 shots per game in the Premier League this term, also per WhoScored.

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Once described as a “real dominator in midfield” by scout Jacek Kulig, Locatelli could provide Arteta with another valuable – and strong – depth option in the midfield and ideally, it wouldn’t be at the expense of either Xhaka or Partey as both still have a part to play in the Gunners’ surprise title charge.

But what makes the Juventus gem a potentially better alternative to the current Arsenal duo is his ability to fire defence-splitting passes from deep midfield, as put perfectly by football writer Raj Choban, who tweeted: “Manuel Locatelli, what a player. Kimmich-esque with his ability to slice apart a defence from playing as a 6.”

As such, sporting director Edu Gaspar must look to secure a permanent deal for the Italian, even if it’ll cost in excess of his £44m value without swapping any of Arteta’s first-team stars.

AND in other news, Edu eyeing bargain swoop for £25m “phenomenon” as Arsenal “ready” to make January bid