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Arsenal “cooling” interest in Youri Tielemans transfer

But are they really?

Leicester City v Norwich City - Premier League Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images

Arsenal’s pursuit of Youri Tielemans is “cooling” according to multiple reports. The 25-year old Leicester City midfielder looked to be one of Mikel Arteta’s top transfer targets early in the summer, but the most recent reports have the Gunners looking to prioritize other signings. Arsenal seem set on acquiring Tielemans for around £25M, and right now, Leicester City appear to be holding out for more.

Time is not on the Foxes’ side, however. Tielemans is into the final year of his contract and does not want to renew his deal. He’s going to leave on a free if he runs down his contract at the King Power. The clock is ticking for Leicester to find additional suitors to create a bidding war and / or find another way to push up his price. They aren’t the type of club that lets or can afford to let a talent like Tielemans walk for nothing.

The optimist in me thinks the Arsenal brass are shrewdly trying to use this to their advantage. That they’ve got a read that Tielemans will still be available later in the window when Leicester feel even more pressure to sell. And so they’ve turned their attention to more in-demand players that might be tougher to get, knowing that they’ll be able to come back in for Tielemans in mid- to late July or even on Deadline Day.

Let’s not rule out the possibility that the Tielemans interest could be a smokescreen for another move, too. Arsenal were heavily linked to James Maddison (also of Leicester City, I’d remind you) last summer before moving for Martin Ødegaard.

There is also chatter that Arsenal signing Tielemans might be contingent on shifting out other players to generate funds. Specifically, reports suggest that Arsenal will have one of Youri Tielemans or Granit Xhaka on the roster next season but not both.

The Gunners need to sell several players this summer. It’s reasonable to think that who they are able to sell and for how much could make the difference between being able to afford* an additional incoming player or not.

But I don’t buy the either-or between Xhaka and Tielemans. For starters, Granit Xhaka has been rumored to be on the way out more times than I can count, and he’s still at Arsenal. Second, Xhaka isn’t a fringe player that is already on the way out. Like it or not, he’s an important piece of the squad who fills a key role both on and off the pitch. And finally, Mikel Arteta really likes Granit Xhaka. He wants him at the club. That counts for something, too.

That the Gunners are shifting their focus elsewhere also tells me that while they may want Tielemans, he’s not a central piece of the summer plans nor a player that Mikel Arteta absolutely has to have for his system. Arteta had to have Thomas Partey, and they got him. Tielemans doesn’t appear to have that level of importance. He feels much more like a — I don’t want to say luxury signing because Arsenal need good players and he fits that bill — but I’m getting if they get him, great, if not, it’s not the end of the world vibes around the potential deal.

We haven’t heard the last of Youri Tielemans-to-Arsenal this summer. It may take a while, even as long as Deadline Day, but I think the Gunners are still in for him. And I still think it’s more likely than not that he’s playing for Arsenal next season.

*afford as in make a deal happen. I don’t think it’s a question of having the money or not. Arsenal have the money. Last summer, they spent well more than we expected they would, and it looks as if they’re going to do the same this transfer window. If they really want Tielemans, they’ll find the money it takes to get him.