According to Italian publication Calcio Mercato, north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham have been “alerted” to the presence of Lorenzo Pellegrini’s agent in London, and the midfielder would be keen for a move away from the Stadio Olimpico this summer.
The report claims that whilst Pellegrini would like to play Champions League football next season, the Italy international would still welcome a move to Arsenal.
It adds that Roma’s Serie A rivals Inter also remain interested in the midfielder, and that his £31.1m release clause can be paid in two separate installments.
With the Gunners’ limited transfer budget well-known, a move for Pellegrini seems to make both footballing and financial sense for Unai Emery’s side.
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It’s no secret that the two contrasting styles of both Mesut Ozil and Emery have clashed at times this season. The Gunners manager went so far as to suggest that his decision to drop the languid German at Bournemouth in November was due to him not being ready for the “physicality and intensity” of the game.
The club’s highest-paid player on the bench because the manager basically doesn’t trust him to work hard enough, a truly bizarre predicament.
Ozil’s talents are undoubted, but with Emery at the helm, there appears no way for him to fully become a part of the manager’s plans.
Pellegrini on the other hand, might just be the answer the Arsenal manager has been craving. A majestic number ten capable of pulling the strings in the middle of the park and dictating the tempo; but someone who is prepared to hustle and harry the opposition, work hard for the team, and do the proverbial dirty work.
The 22-year-old averaged an impressive 1.6 tackles per game in Serie A from an advanced midfield position, and managed to make a further 0.5 interceptions and 0.8 clearances too.
Ozil? The German mustered a measly 0.5 tackles per game in the Premier League and virtually non-existent numbers for interceptions and clearances at 0.2 and 0.1 respectively.
Pellegrini has shown a hunger and desire that Emery will immediately take to. After coming under fire for his displays earlier in his Roma career, the Italian turned things around and became a valued part of the Giallorossi.
Indeed, after the side’s 5-0 thrashing of Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League in October, former boss Eusebio di Francesco said of the midfielder’s performance: “Sometimes he’s been on the receiving end of unfair criticism but he’s shown the character to dive into this position really well. He can cause damage in that position, he looks to play it forward and he understands the role superbly. I’m really happy, the lad deserves it.”
The key word? Character. Whilst Ozil has shown virtually none of it, Pellegrini has shown it in spades. And that just makes him the ideal man for Emery to build his new era around at the Emirates.