Chris Wheatley’s transfer round-up: Arsenal to take ‘major hit’ on big-money transfer as landmark deal nears

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Chris Wheatley rounds up the latest Arsenal transfer news, as the Gunners look to strengthen their squad ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.

The 2023 summer transfer window promises to be one of the most captivating in some time, as a host of high profile footballers look to move to pastures new following the conclusion of a frantic 2022/23 campaign.

World Cup winner Lionel Messi has already sealed a big-money move to MLS outfit Inter Miami, while the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane and Declan Rice also look set to take on new challenges.

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As the off-season business begins to pick up pace, National World's football editor and journalist, Chris Wheatley, returns with his regular column, providing the latest insight into transfers and football news:

Arsenal fringe players

Nicolas Pepe and Cedric Soares are both surplus to requirements at Arsenal. Their representatives are currently trying to find them new teams ahead of the 2023/24 season.

Pepe in particular is open minded to moving to Saudi Arabia, where a flurry of marquee names have arrived in recent weeks. However, the Gunners will have to accept taking a major hit on the £72.5million they paid for the Ivorian back in 2019.

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Gerrard the latest to join Saudi mass exodus

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is set to be appointed as the new manager of Saudi side Al-Ettifaq. Gerrard is the latest big name to join Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in Saudi Arabia.

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N’Golo Kante is expected to be the next player to head there, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is in talks over a possible transfer.

Rice on the verge

Arsenal are close to sealing a club-record deal to sign West Ham midfielder Declan Rice. There is confidence from both sides that an agreement will be reached soon, with the final fee expected to surpass £100m inclusive of add-ons.

Discussions also explored whether fringe players could be involved as makeweights in the deal, but it is understood West Ham’s preference is a flat-fee structure. Rice is Arsenal’s priority target this summer, with Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo and Man City’s Ilkay Gundogan also targets.

It’s understood the 24-year-old has had discussions with manager Mikel Arteta about how he fits into the Arsenal projects, with the England international keen on making the switch to north London.

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Xhaka’s waiting game

Arsenal want to bring in a replacement for Granit Xhaka before sanctioning the midfielder’s move to Bayer Leverkusen. The structure of Xhaka’s transfer has been verbally agreed, but Arsenal are aware that allowing the Swiss international to leave before signing a replacement would put them in a weaker bargaining position.

Xhaka already said his goodbyes to his teammates at a recent end of season dinner and his exit received the blessing of manager Mikel Arteta, who reluctantly agreed to allow him to leave.

Caicedo latest

Moises Caicedo doesn’t have a fixed preference on which club he wants to join this summer, sources close to the player have told LondonWorld.

The Ecuador midfielder, who is valued at around £75million, will leave Brighton this summer after almost joining Arsenal in the January transfer window. Caicedo wants to play Champions League football and is being targeted by both the Gunners and Chelsea. Neither side has yet to make a formal offer for the highly-rated 21-year-old.

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Zinchenko’s charity endeavours

Oleksandr Zinchenko is hosting a special ‘Game 4 Ukraine’ charity match at Stamford Bridge on Friday 4 August.

The match is raising donations to help re-build the country’s infrastructure and facilities following last year’s invasion and the ongoing war. Tickets are on sale now at Game4Ukraine will be broadcast live in the UK on Sky and is free to stream for those in Ukraine.

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