Arsenal looked set to secure their main transfer target Mykhailo Mudryk before Chelsea hijacked the deal by offering Shakhtar Donetsk their £88.5m asking price, so Mikel Arteta must now to turn to Plan B instead.
Respect must go to the Spaniard for not giving into the Ukrainian club’s demands, but missing out on the winger will be a big blow, especially as the Gunners were looking to bolster their attacking options in order to give themselves the best chance possible to win their first Premier League title since 2004.
Arteta might just have an alternative up his sleeve, though. Arsenal have been linked with a move for Real Betis winger Luiz Henrique according to reports in Spain, although they face competition from Manchester United, who are also tracking the player.
Henrique mainly operates on the right wing but he can play on the left flank when required and is the same age as Mudryk (22).
He still has five years left on his current contract, so any potential move will likely cost a big transfer fee; and with CIES Football Observatory valuing the winger at €35m (£31m), Arteta may need to splash the cash to sign him.
Henrique joined the La Liga club from Fluminense last summer, having registered 27 goal contributions in 118 matches with the Brazilian giants, and he has settled into life at Betis with ease.
The 22-year-old has been particularly impressive in the Europa League this season, scoring two goals and setting up another two across his six matches while making one key passes and averaging 2.3 shots per game in proving that he offers an effective threat from out wide (Sofascore).
The Brazilian saved his best performance for the visit of Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana just last week. He averaged a Sofascore rating of 7.9/10, ranking him as Betis’ second-best performer during the tie, which resulted in a penalty shootout victory for the Catalan club.
The winger played the full 120 minutes and grabbed two assists while making four key passes, taking two shots and enjoying 71 touches, which suggests that he was constantly looking to make things happen and craving the ball.
By making five tackles and winning nine duels, he showed great maturity to chip in defensively too, and this performance clearly shows that Henrique can shine at the highest level.
Spanish football expert Graham Hunter lauded praise on the youngster even before the match against Barcelona, hailing him as a “thrilling young winger”, and the 22-year-old certainly lived up to that billing.
He might not be Arteta’s number one target, but there is every chance that Henrique could go all the way to the top, and the best way for Arsenal to move on from the Mudryk near-miss is to land an exciting winger of their own.