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Transfer Rumor: Arsenal linked with $20m Dutch midfielder

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Could this be yet another piece in the Gunners’ midfield overhaul?

Dutch Eredivisie”AZ Alkmaar v Heracles Almelo” Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Arsenal are one of several clubs looking at AZ Alkmaar captain Teun Koopmeiners. He has really come into form over the past two seasons, becoming a goal-scoring threat while helping AZ finish third last year and qualify for the Europa League. Reports indicate that clubs across Europe’s big five leagues are interested in Koopmeiners, with Arsenal possibly having a slight advantage, being his boyhood club of choice.

By now you’ll know that Arsenal seems to be set to sign Belgian midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht. If Xhaka goes, Lokonga helps feel that void. But questions remain around Ainsley Maitland-Niles versus a second new face in the Arsenal midfield. In May, Arsenal was also linked with Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge.

Player: Teun Koopmeiners, 23

Current Club: AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie. He had been in the AZ Alkmaar academy system for nearly a decade before making his senior-level debut in the 2017-18 season. He has since made 150 appearances for AZ, scoring 43 goals and providing 17 assists. A deep-lying midfielder that directly contributes goals and assists? A piece that Arsenal crucially needs to add heading into this season. His stats over the past two seasons demonstrate his progression — 82 matches, 33 goals & 10 assists.

International: After being a key piece of the Netherlands U19 and U21 teams, Koopmeiners made his senior national team debut this past October in a 1-0 loss to Mexico. He was included in the Dutch’s warm-up matches ahead of the Euros and the tournament itself but failed to get on the pitch.

Position(s): Primarily a defensive or central midfielder, but has also filled in at center back as well. In fact, he scored from all three positions this past season for AZ Alkmaar.

Potential Price: Currently valued at around $18 million, his price tag has been between $15-20m for the past few seasons. Coming off another offensively productive season, despite his usual defensive position, and becoming a part of the Netherlands senior squad, Koopmeiners will likely go for $20-25m.

Arsenal Positional Depth:

  • Granit Xhaka — turning 29 next season and has two seasons left on his contract.
  • Thomas Partey — 28 with four seasons left on his contract.
  • Mohamed Elneny — 29 and with just one year left on his current deal.
  • Ainsley Maitland-Niles — turns 24 next month, with two years left on his contract, but questions remain if Arteta sees him as a true midfielder vs. a right-back/right-wing-back option.
  • Miguel Azeez — will be 19 next season and trained often with the first team this year. Next season he needs a senior loan to a Championship level club to determine his readiness unless Mikel Arteta sees a way for him to contribute meaningful minutes at Arsenal next season.

Arsenal Need: Matteo Guendouzi is off to Marseille, Lucas Torreira is still expected to have a new home next season, and Granit Xhaka clearly is ready for a change. If all three leave, Arsenal needs to sign at least two midfielders, unless Arteta decides to give AMN a chance this season. Arsenal is strongly linked with a move for 21-year-old Albert Sambi Lokonga. It would be nice to add a second option as well, either someone like Koopmeiners or Sander Berge, both of who fit the right age profile the Gunners need to be targeting over the next few windows.

Final Verdict: It would be a surprise if Torreira and Xhaka didn’t complete transfers in the next few weeks. Arsenal would be wise to add two young midfield options that can both contribute right away. Elneny is a great squad player, but will likely leave on a free next summer. I’m not convinced that Maitland-Niles is the midfield player that he believes he can be or that Arteta fully supports that test this season.

A double swoop for Lokonga and Koopmeiners might be ideal, sending AMN and Azeez out on loan. Add in Berge, and Arsenal would get at least two young midfielders with a lot of potential (and resale value) for $40-50 million, as they look ahead to a future midfield that is without Xhaka, Torreira, Guendouzi, and Elneny.