Locatelli is the perfect upgrade on Granit Xhaka

Arsenal ahead of Juventus in Locatelli race

Arsenal are believed to have moved ahead of Italian giants Juventus with an “important bid” for Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

The 23-year-old has attracted a lot of attention from some of the big names across Europe after an excellent season with the Italian side, while also impressing during the ongoing European Championship.

The need for midfield reinforcements is pressing at the Emirates Stadium next season, with Dani Ceballos having returned to parent club Real Madrid and Granit Xhaka looking likely to join Jose Mourinho’s Roma.

Despite the reports suggesting that the deal for Anderlecht’s Albert Sambi Lokonga will be wrapped up imminently, Mikel Arteta clearly needs another body at the heart of midfield. Someone who has good experience and can deliver the good almost immediately.

And Arsenal look to have made their first offer for an “experienced head” in Italy and Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli.

Speaking to Sky Sport Italia, The Neroverdi’s CEO Giovanni Carnevali said, “Arsenal have made an official bid for Locatelli. They’re pushing hard to sign Manuel and it’s an important bid.”

“Also, Juventus want Locatelli and we’ve a special relationship with them. We’ve a new meeting scheduled with Juve.

He continued, “We are trying to leave the lad calm, so I haven’t spoken to him or his agents yet. We can think about Locatelli’s future, but above all we care about his present and that means Italy doing well at the Euros.”

Last season, Locatelli ranked among the best midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for passes attempted per game, pass completion percentage, progressive passes and progressive carries.

Although he is a defensive midfielder, he can also play as a number eight, due to his agility and passing range. The young midfielder, who started his career at AC Milan, has made 99 appearances for Sassuolo and 63 for his former club, racking up nine goals and 10 assists, which is impressive for a defensive midfielder.

Locatelli has also made 13 appearances for his national team of Italy since his debut in September last year.

Although it’s hard to imagine him in red and white, stranger things have happened in the past window. Arsenal also appear ruthless in this transfer window. Thus, it is not beyond the realms of imagination to see Locatelli shining in the Premier League next season.



  1. We should stop wasting time on him and get Bissouma. Bissouma’s defensive ability and his dribbling will be fantastic for us. That will leave Partey to be able to push up a bit more and be box to box. He can also pass very well but it wasn’t his role at Brighton.

        1. Please check cafonline.com

          Scroll down a little to see the animated banner after the main picture on their home page. AFCON will start on 9 January to 6 February 2022

    1. I will tell you now we or not signing anyone with a big price tag we will sign nobody’s like normal. P S Everton or going to sign Ben white for 50 million we dismissed any offer now because we can’t pay wot Brighton want how sad arsenal or

  2. Locatelli, a big yes for me. But I would also seriously consider Renato Sanches. I like his technical abilities, work rate, strength and versatility. Bissouma would be OK too, but he needs to score more goals.

  3. Manuel Locatelli, Marcel Sabitzer and Renato Sanchez job done in midfield.
    Thomas Partey would be the only midfielder lost to Afcon and Joe Willock steps up.
    All these transfers are achievable for Arsenal. Juventus lost €200 million last season and are bleeding money for Ronaldo, Ramsey and other players on exorbitant wages. They have accordingly offered Sassuolo money plus players for Locatelli, whereas the club wants straight money. Locatelli is apparently earning £22,000 per week, which Arsenal would have little trouble upgrading, or meeting the €40,000 asking fee.
    Manuel Pereira, Yves Bissouma and Ruben Neves are also available. Lokonga is also one for the future.
    All the above players would upgrade Arsenal midfield without the high cost of Grealish or Maddison.
    All Arsenal has to do is read the comments on JA to scout players to investigate. Someone on here (sorry I can’t remember who) identified Manuel Locatelli well before the Euros.
    Why can we see it and the so called “professionals” can’t?



    1. Pepe took almost a season and a half to hit decent form at Arsenal after he scored 23 and assisted a further 12 goals the previous season at Lille.

      Even after a season, two proven performers. Partey and Willian, are yet to prove their worth in their new surroundings.

      Tierney needed to spend a significant amount of time at the treatment table in both the seasons he’s at Arsenal and missed almost 30 games in that period.

      How come three new signings who have neither played in the PL nor played together be expected to be termed “job done in midfield”, mate?

      1. VasC, what are your alternatives? If you think Arsenal has the money to attract players of the EPL profile of Grealish and Maddison you need to think again. The players I have nominated are internationals, have good statistics (some with Champions League experience), with the ability to adapt well to the EPL, make Arsenal better and are achievable.
        What Arsenal have in midfield has delivered eighth place two years in a row and the Club currently has no income from playing in Europe.
        Arsenal as a club cannot afford to miss this income for too long.
        Doing nothing is not an option.

        1. Before I state my alternatives, let’s first conclude upon certain facts.

          1. Arsenal have no midweek headaches due to no participation in European competition. That translates to 40 odd games based on our progress in domestic cup competitions.
          2. Arsenal’s pocket ain’t deep and probability of new arrivals are based on the revenue generated from player sales.
          3. Apart from Saka, ESR, Martinelli and Tierney, none of the Arsenal players are branded “INDISPENSABLE”. Players without that tag won’t start a bidding war in the market and won’t fetch anything closer to their current market value.
          4. Given the current financial state, there is no guarantee that the club will be able to sell all their unwanted players in this transfer window out-right.
          5. The market value of a half-dozen squad players’ value has plummeted in the last year because of how the club handled their situation.
          6. There can be only 17 “non-homegrown player” in the squad.

          My alternative idea is this:

          Based on the league table after Christmas, Arsenal are third only behind a couple of teams. Only Luiz, Odegaard and Ceballos aren’t right now. One goal and six assists were the contribution between them in the PL. Torreira, Guendouzi, Willock and AMN have returned from their respective loan-spells and all can play CM.

          Arsenal only have the league to play for this season and the squad is quite large. We may need to sell at least 2-3 players to bring in just one player who can improve the team. And a homegrown player is gonna cost twice as a non-homegrown one. Prime example – Ben White.

          Arteta just need to tweak a bit to get more out of the current squad. Partey, Martinelli, who both missed the majority of last season, and the players returning from their loan-spells must be considered as new signings and a fair chance must be given to them.

          After the Willian fiasco, this Arsenal technical team can’t be trusted to find the right value for money in the market. Any more money to spend, without getting the return for what has been spent already, will further lead the club into a turmoil in the future.

          Let Arteta prove he can work with the players and improve them before sanctioning further investment on the playing squad. Nobody can guarantee that the manager won’t freeze a 50 million signing in the future because of the player’s attitude. May be that’s acceptable at his wealthy training school at Manchester, but in reality, it’s quite un-affordable at cash-strapped Arsenal.

          I’m not suggesting to do nothing. But, I wish that Arsenal and Arteta to do EVERYTHING in their powers to improve the players at the club right now, both senior and academy, before looking for better talent elsewhere.

    2. So what convinces you the pros didn’t see Locatelli before you? What convinces you they haven’t been watching him since he was 18 and have just gotten serious about him now?

      What convinces you he was always a promising player from a very young age? Do you think arsenal is trying to sign him due to his performance at the EUROS? Don’t you think that would be a little naive of you?

  4. No, Locatelli is a different midfielder type. We should’ve looked for a similar midfielder type of Xhaka, such as Fabian Ruiz Pena, Teun Koopmeiners, Carles Alena, Eduardo Camavinga, Ivan Ilic, Matteo Pessina, Maximilian Arnold or Kerem Demirbay

    If Locatelli joins us, we’ll have to rely on Magalhaes or Mari to feed our LB and LW, for breaking the opposition’s defense through the pass along the left sideline. Italy are doing this in Euro, using Chiellini, Bastoni or Acerbi

    Locatelli is familiar with Mancini’s positional play and can play similar role in Arteta’s, but I predict he’ll need more than one season to adapt in EPL

    1. @gotanidea made the most significant statement in the comments section yet, that’s worth looking into in any potential signings in this transfer window. The adaptation / bedding-in period is the most important thing in THIS transfer window.

      Arsenal don’t have the luxury of waiting for the new signing to adapt to EPL and deliver the expected goods. Already without European football for the coming season, if the new signings don’t elevate the team’s performance and take us into the elusive top four and into Champions league contention next season, Arsenal may risk losing the best young talents in the squad to other European heavy-weights.

      The club must be focusing on two or three smart additions to the existing squad to keep the continuity of last season’s good form in the second half of the season instead of a complete overhaul by dismantling the squad and signing new players who may take time to adapt to the new surroundings.

      1. So far, barring White Arsenal is buying a young DM (Lokonga) and LB (Tierney backup Nuno Tavares) for the future.
        The players I have listed are ready now. Any would strengthen Arsenal’s starting eleven.

        1. Partey, Willian and Pepe were “READY THEN” to strengthen Arsenal’s starting eleven, when they signed for the club.

          For the future, Arsenal have U-23 players waiting in the wing for some game time to act as understudies to the starters and prove themselves.

          Why keep an academy when the club need to look elsewhere for players for the future, mate?

          1. Partey arrived late and had injuries. If you check Pepe’s goals and assists he has performed well for a wide player in his first two seasons, particularly considering he would score a goal and be banished to the bench. The overarching issue has been the high transfer fee Arsenal paid and the high expectations that went with that.
            On the other hand Willian should have acclimatised the easiest but has performed the worst and given his extortionist wages is difficult to move on.
            As far as the Academy is concerned, I have continually pushed for Arsenal to first promote players from the U23’s before looking elsewhere. Why for example was Joel Lopez Salguero not given an opportunity to audition for the back up LB, rather than spending money on Tavaras? Obviously Arteta and Edu don’t think he is ready. A similar situation exists with the young midfielders like Miguel Azeez, Kido Taylor-Hart and Ben Cottrell.

      2. I agree that we shouldn’t bring in too many new players, because they will need adaptation period. Fulham got relegated in 2018-2019 season after getting 150+ M new players, including Chambers and Jean Seri in summer 2018

        We should get maximum two new players for the central midfield positions and spend the rest of the budget for other departments

      3. Important points made and I agree with your standpoint. The team and Arteta need to hit the ground running next season as so much is at stake

        Being able to quickly adapt to the league is an unknown. Fernandes made an immediate impact at Utd but good old EPL stalwart, Willian didn’t when he came to us and Pepe is slowly getting there It’s a bit of a lottery

        1. The kind of immediate impact produced by Bruno Fernandez signing is a rarity in modern day football. A player in a new league to score 40 goals and assist 25 more in just a season and a half is evident of the player’s undoubted quality.

          But, credit must be given to the manager too, for setting up the team to the player’s strengths.

          Where Man Utd trumped Arsenal was how they handled their signing of 30+ years free agents. Cavani was handed just a one-year contract with an obligation of another year extension while Willian penned a three year lucrative contract out-right. I won’t hold anything against Willian for that. I’d have done the same in his place.

          1. I get your drift VasC in your last paragraph but I certainly do hold Willian responsible for honouring his contract in its true sense. His agent got the extra year that Chelsea wouldn’t agree to, so whilst I’m all in favour of the rolling one year contract would Willian have dropped off the cliff for them last year?

          2. VasC. As for your two final sentences, would YOU then have coasted lazily through the entire season as Willian did? Just asking, as honouring a signed contact, as least in my book, SHOULD ALWAYS BE a two way agreement.

            Willian was paid regularly, so our club honoured its side of the contract. But I strongly submit to you that Willian did NOT! Or do you disagree?
            On the same principle, did you or did you not believe that OZIL “honoured” his lucrative long term(two way) last contract!

            I do not so believe!

    2. Sorry, GAI totally disagree. Locatelli has everything Xhaka has plus. The passing range, dribbling ability, tackling, ball winning plus too footed and obtainable given Arsenal’s resources.

      1. He looks good in Mancini’s 4-3-3, but we also need to see his injury record. The good thing about Xhaka is he almost never had long-term injury at Arsenal

        1. Tierny missed as much as games at Arsenal in two years due to injury as Xhaka missed in his entire career for almost a decade. Locatelli’s record is quite similar to Xhaka’s in his short career. Unlike Partey who missed thrice the number of games at Arsenal (17) in one season to his four seasons at Atletio Madrid (6) due to injury.

        2. GAI, “Almost never” , yes and such a shame, given his complete and long lasting uselessness!

    3. I think Camavinga would be replacement for Bissouma. This past season Cama played more as CM but before that he was DM and thats where he really shined.

      1. Camavinga looks impressive on his YouTube highlights, although he’s a bit too mobile to me. Someone has to stay behind in midfield, when Partey dribbles to the opposition’s area

        I also prefer Camavinga over Locatelli and Bissouma

        1. If just shielding the defence is the most important attribute, why look further than AMN. He has proven that on multiple occasions while playing as emergency RB/LB in the past. He got the engine to last the 90+ minutes on the pitch. He’s already in the club’s book and is still young and more importantly “home-grown”.

          Give the lad an opportunity to play a string of games before judging him.

          1. I agree, we should give Maitland-Niles a chance to compete with Partey in deep midfield area next season

    4. I’m not going to claim to be an expert on them, but from the stats, I see on the radar, Locatelli is just Xhaka with dribbling. Nothing says similar players like that to me. All it proves to me though is Xhaka is not as far behind the best of Europe as fans will have you believe.

      1. We can compare their heatmaps in Euro, which show that Xhaka is more influential in midfield:



        Locatelli (L) vs Xhaka (X) in Euro:

        —– Passing:
        – Assists: 0 (L) vs 1 (X)
        – Touches: 50 (L) vs 90.5 (X)
        – Key passes: 1.0 (L) vs 1.3 (X)
        – Accurate per game: 37.0 (90%) (L) vs 71.0 (91%) (X)
        – Acc. own half: 11.7 (95%) (L) vs 32.8 (95%) (X)
        – Acc. opposition half: 25.3 (86%) (L) vs 38.3 (87%) (X)
        – Acc. long balls: 2.3 (70%) (L) vs 4.5 (75%) (X)
        – Acc. chipped passes: 2.3 (64%) (L) vs 3.5 (64%) (X)

        —– Defending:
        – Interceptions per game: 0.7 (L) vs 0.5 (X)
        – Tackles per game: 2.3 (L) vs 2.8 (X)
        – Possession won: 1.0 (L) vs 0.3 (X)
        – Dribbled past per game: 0.7 (L) vs 1.5 (X)
        – Clearances per game: 0.7 (L) vs 1.0 (X)

        1. A heat map shows where the player operates, not how influential he is. Also, the heat maps in euros tell an entirely different story comparing to the respective leagues. It’s best to use our eyes to judge quality sometimes and if you see xhaka and believe that this guy is good enough to be a starter for arsenal then I honestly don’t know how to respond to that. My eyes tell me that locatelli is indeed a faster, smarter version of xhaka with better dribbling. The question though is do we need another b2b player or should we now search for a defensive midfielder in the mould of bissouma and an attacking midfielder?

          1. Xhaka has improved a lot under Arteta and he’s our only left-footed DM

            Wenger, Emery, Ljungberg, Arteta, Mourinho and Vladimir Petkovic are surely more knowledgeable than common fans like us. They all made/ will make Xhaka their key player

            About the question, we need a left-footed DM and a left-footed CAM, if Arteta still uses 4-2-3-1

          2. GAI, what has not and never will improve whether under MA or God Almighty , is the woeful lack of pace and immobility in everything tortoise Xhaka does. That is the true and realistic thing that most matters.


          3. You know who else might know a thing or two about playing midfield, Ray Parlour, who said the following about your beloved Xhaka, “If he goes to Roma, I think Italy is perfect for him, as t’s a slower game over there…the pace of the Premier League is maybe just a little bit too much for him…consistency is so important in midfield, you’ve got to be performing like that week in week out and at times he’s had poor games – like 4 out of 10 games – and you need a player who will guarantee you a 7, 8 or 9 every week”

  5. Have you seen who his agent is…Kia Joorabchian…no way should we have dealings with his guy.

    1. So If Kia happens to be Messi’s agent and arsenal can sign Messi, …… I catch your drift. Hope the scouting team do too.

      1. As far as I’m aware Messi’s agent is still Jorge Mendes but it’s doubtful that the scouting team would have any interest in someone on £600K per week but you could lobby them.

        1. Actually, after re-checking I find that Messi is on £2 million per week. Yes, just what we need.

    1. Atm I wouldn’t be too concerned about Everton hijacking this deal, just a baseless rumour from no reputable source.

    2. Everton will be doing a huge favor if they actually hijack Ben White from under Arsenal’s nose.

      50+ Million quids saved!!!

      A whole lot of money to spend on positions in the squad that need immediate attention.

  6. @SueP
    “Would Willian have dropped off the cliff for them last year?”
    May or may not have happened. And TBH, I didn’t watch a lot of Chelsea games last season apart from the games against us.
    Willian is tactically not suited for Arteta’s game plan. Just like Auba, Willian needs a quick release of the ball into space for him to exploit which didn’t happen a lot last season. Plus, Willian (or any other winger in Arteta’s game plan) was expected to provide defensive cover for the full back along with his attacking duties. There’s only so much a 30+ year old can do in this league. Even Auba didn’t reach the figures last season as he was used to the previous seasons.

    I appreciate Arteta fixing a leaky defence during his tenure. But, that translated into toothless attacks. He needs to find the right balance soon.

    “Would YOU then have coasted lazily through the entire season as Willian did? Willian was paid regularly, so our club honoured its side of the contract. But I strongly submit to you that Willian did NOT! Or do you disagree?
    On the same principle, did you or did you not believe that OZIL “honoured” his lucrative long term(two way) last contract!”

    Arteta must share the major part of the blame here. Willian was signed with his approval. And he was too naive to teach new tricks to a very old dog. Willian huffed and puffed as much as his body could take. How naive Arteta must be as a manager in his failure to comprehend the reason behind Chelsea releasing him at the end of his contract?

    Ozil’s case is slightly different. Ozil was the biggest earner at the club, yet featured very little in the last two seasons. For reasons unknown, Arteta froze Ozil out of the squad. Ozil never protested against being played or sulked on the field. The manager made the decision. We can’t blame Ozil for that.

    The club never seem to learn from their past mistakes. The players have maybe 15-20 years career professionally. They can’t survive for the rest of their lives with “FAIR-PLAY” accolades. If Arsenal have learnt anything from Ozil situation, the Willian fiasco wouldn’t have happened.

    1. VasC, I totally disagree with your, to my mind, biased view about OZIL. The facts were that he was bone idle and never tried properly or throughout his last several years(not just two). He also threw sickies when he could not be bothered to even play and he was the worst sport of con man that ever wore our shirt.

      He froze himself out of the squad by his flat refusal to work hard, as all players must do and so dishonoured his entirely one sided contract.

      He was a total disgrace and I AM THRILLED THAT AT LONG LONG LONG LAST, his malignant presence has FINALLY been cleansed from our club.

  7. @Ozziegunner

    Callum Chambers would have been my first pick before he started featuring heavily at RB towards the end of last season. He won the Fan’s Player of the Year award at Fulham during his loan spell there playing under Scott Parker (a CM himself), the only player from a relegated team to win the Football Writer’s Association’s Footballer of the Year award for the 2010-11 season.

    I chose AMN because of his reluctance to play fullback and his preference to play in the middle of the park.

  8. I now regrets being an arsenal fans. Look at serious clubs signing quality players while arsenal are busy doing nothing.

  9. All we miss it’s players that would add that great quick impact to the team like Bruno did at United but those players coz a fortune…. We were blessed to have Sanchez and Ozil who saved our Sean’s for a while, we need to steal those gems out again Camavinga is a gem, grealish too if I dream, Pedri, shichk I liked him, berardi, many more…

  10. my next door neighbours slightly lame tom cat would, be, in my opinion, be an upgrade on xhaka. this tom cat, though lame, can put in a good sprint and use his brain at the same time. something i have never ever seen xhaka do in his arsenal career. good riddance to this player who only has two gears, namely, slow, and, even slower. i wish him all the best, but no thanks for his lack of contributions to our cause.

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