SSN reporter Dharmesh Sheth on Arsenal's search for a midfielder: "Midfield is one of Arsenal's priority positions, it just depends whether they do it now or wait until the summer. I just wonder if they'll go into the loan market for a midfielder just to tie them over until the summer."
Monday 30 January 2023 10:59, UK
Mikel Arteta has confirmed Arsenal are on the lookout for a new midfielder before the transfer window closes. Here we look at why the position is now a priority for the Gunners...
Arteta spoke about his desire for a new midfielder to join his squad ahead of his side's FA Cup fourth-round tie with Manchester City on Friday.
He revealed he wants further cover in the midfield area because of a fresh injury concern for Mohamed Elneny.
The Egyptian midfielder was not named in Arsenal's matchday squad for the 3-2 win over Manchester United, with the Gunners recently linked with a move for Brighton's Moises Caicedo and Everton's Amadou Onana.
Speaking about Elneny's injury, Arteta said: "There are concerns. Mo is a player who never complains about anything but let's see.
"We need some more cover in midfield, ideally, if we can. But this market is complicated. But as I always say, the most important thing is we get the performances and the time on the pitch with the players we already have on the pitch are really good."
Concerns about Arsenal's squad depth, particularly in midfield, were heightened when Thomas Partey was substituted at half-time during the subsequent FA Cup defeat at City due to a rib injury. However, the setback is not believed to be serious.
Sky Sports' Nick Wright:
One of the most important factors behind Arsenal's success this season is that they have been able to keep Partey fit. The Ghanaian was sorely missed during his periods on the sidelines last term and Arsenal's record with and without him proves it.
In fact, factor in the current campaign as well and Arsenal's win rate stands at 74 per cent in the Premier League games he has started compared to just 50 per cent in the ones he has missed.
The gulf in quality between him and his deputies, Mohamed Elneny and Albert Sambi Lokonga, is simply too large and the Egyptian's injury exposes Arsenal's lack of depth even more glaringly.
Waiting until the summer, when the club hope to recruit Declan Rice from West Ham, is now even riskier than it was and that means action is required before the end of January window.
Arsenal's schedule has been relatively kind since Christmas, but it ramps up with a run of four Premier League games in 14 days at the start of February, and that's followed by the resumption of their Europa League campaign in March.
Partey's load will need to be managed in order to minimise the risk of injury and that will only be possible if Mikel Arteta is granted his wish for a viable alternative in the 29-year-old's position.
Arsenal's recruitment in recent years has centred on the long-term but right now, top of the Premier League and with the added burden of European commitments to come, a short-term solution is needed.
Sky Sports' Adam Smith:
The radar graphic below compares the 21-year-old with all central midfielders in Europe's top leagues this season and reveals his primary strengths include general distribution, creating chances and winning duels.
Caicedo also provides box-to-box qualities from a typical No 6 role, patrolling the left-of-centre in defensive and opposition halves in almost equal measure.
The Ecuadorian has attempted only two shots from inside the box in the Premier League this term and is far more inclined to strike from outside the box - hitting the target three times from 10 long-range attempts.
In terms of creating chances, Caicedo frequently penetrates opposition lines with threaded passes in central areas but has also found team-mates from wide areas.
The graphic below highlights how Caicedo's passes are primarily made down the central and left-hand thirds and underlines his box-to-box influence, while the passing direction radar reveals an impressive accuracy and progressive vision - with barely any passes angled back to his own goal.
The Brighton midfielder is also cool under pressure, with only two team-mates recording a better ball-retention rate when being hunted down by opposition players, and is also the key component in Brighton's transition phases, according to Second Spectrum data.
At just 21 years of age, Caceido also offers a long-term solution and investment and would drop the Gunners' league-low average age even lower. Indeed, the Ecuadorian has collected 28 senior caps for his nation and starred at the World Cup in Qatar.
Some may baulk at the proposed fee, but Caicedo provides serious midfield mettle and scope for development, while his remaining deal at the AMEX, a soaring transfer market and growing competition for transfer targets nudges prices ever higher.
The Athletic football correspondent David Ornstein on Back Pages Tonight on Sky Sports News:
"Caicedo is a player Arsenal like, the same as Chelsea.
"We've seen that Chelsea had a £55m bid rejected last week. There has been reported interest from Liverpool and others, but Brighton have been steadfast in their view that the player is not going anywhere in this transfer window, and it would take a hell of a lot more than Chelsea's £55m bid to even tempt them to consider selling him.
"So, if £75m is the area Arsenal are looking to go to that is higher than their rivals. They have money, clearly, given that they went in even higher for Mykhailo Mudryk, who ended up moving from Shakhtar Donetsk to Chelsea.
"However, I would hazard a guess that Caicedo will stay at Brighton in this particular window. I just don't see clubs going to the level of expenditure it will take for Brighton to part with him. He's also under a long-term contract.
"Caicedo has changed agents and that representation will most likely see him edge to a possible move away from the Amex Stadium at some point, whether in January or in the summer. But I think it would be unlikely at this stage that Arsenal would manage to pull it off.
"Although, the Gunners do want to invest or recruit in their midfield, whether it be a permanent or a loan deal given it seems Mohamed Elneny has suffered an injury setback in training. Certainly, in the last days of this window, the midfield area is one to watch.
"There were reports that Brighton want £100m to part with Caicedo, so that's the steepness of the task at hand for Arsenal."
Who will be on the move this winter? The January transfer window opened on Sunday January 1, 2023 and closes at 11pm in England and midnight in Scotland on Tuesday January 31, 2023.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.