The major summer transfer deals that Arsenal are working on - and the rumours that we don't believe

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Looking at the signings Arsenal are preparing to make this summer - and the transfer bids they might not make at all.

Arsenal may not have missed out on the title just yet, but recent weeks have, if nothing else, proven that they’re still a few carefully-planned transfers away from becoming a better team than Manchester City. But then, we all knew that would be the case, really – Arsenal have come from a long way back to become genuine title contenders in the space of a few years, but there’s still more work to be done, and that will remain the case even if the Gunners do win their first title for two decades this May.

And with just a few weeks left until the season ends and the silly season that is the summer transfer window begins, sporting director Edu and his band of spreadsheet-bothering analysists and besuited corporate negotiators will already be hard at work getting Ts and Is in place before crossing and dotting can take place in a couple of months. But where are they at right now, and who will Arsenal sign this summer?

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We’re at the stage in proceedings when agents are being buttered up and transfer fees are being discussed, and it seems as though we have a fair idea about the players that Arsenal are prioritising – so let’s take a look at the key deals that are already in the pipeline at the Emirates.

Two positions have emerged as major priorities for Edu and Mikel Arteta – a centre-forward and a midfielder to work alongside Declan Rice. And starting with the new number nine, there’s a definite pattern emerging amidst all the media reporting which has Arsenal drawing a beeline directly towards Sporting striker Viktor Gyökeres.

You can take your pick of any sports media outlet in England or Portugal, they’ve almost universally agreed that Arsenal are dead set on making a bid for the Swedish forward, who has bagged 29 goals this season after moving from Coventry City last season. Initial reports had suggested that Sporting would demand the entirety of his €100m (£86.3m) release clause would have to be paid but The Daily Mirror are among the organisations recently reporting that they’ll now settle for €80m (£69m).

The crystallisation of the price tag suggests ongoing negotiations, not that either party would admit as such publicly until it’s time to record an announcement video. AC Milan are interested too, however, so there’s at least some chance that the Gunners miss out – but it seems pretty clear that Gyökeres is the main target at this point.

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Based on that, it looks more likely that the link to Newcastle United striker Alexander Isak is more of a back-up plan. The Guardian are among the many outlets reporting that Arsenal could bid for Isak and that he could cost up to £100m. That towering fee might explain why he doesn’t seem to be the priority right now. Links with other forwards, like Brentford’s Ivan Toney and Feyenoord’s Santiago Giménez, have cooled considerably over the last six months or so, and we’ve seen nothing to suggest that the Gunners are planning to actively pursue either as yet.

As for the midfielder, it looks like Arsenal’s preference is very much to launch (yet) another bid for Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz, who they have tried and failed to sign on a number of occasions over the past couple of years. The Brazil international’s contract is set to run down in 2026, so Villa may eventually decide to cash in for maximum value rather than risk losing him for a pittance a year or so down the line – but that’s only if they can’t tie him down a new deal, which a few Birmingham-based outlets are reporting could be in the pipeline.

That could explain why a few recent reports have suggested that Arsenal are pivoting back to Real Sociedad midfielder Martín Zubimendi, who has a reported €60m (£51.8m) release clause, which Arsenal would have to pay in full – TeamTalk have reported that Arsenal are “on the cusp” of reaching an agreement over the player. We think that’s a little premature, but the indications are that Arsenal are less than confident in their pursuit of Luiz and are now preparing to settle for second best.

It certainly looks like it’s one or the other at this point though, with very few rumours linking Arsenal with other central midfielders despite the likelihood that Jorginho leaves in order to return to Serie A (Juventus and Napoli are both interested) and uncertainty over the future of Thomas Partey. Mohammed Elneny will certainly leave at the end of his contract, as well.

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Elsewhere, The Guardian report that Arsenal are preparing to rival Manchester United with a bid for Michael Olise – it makes sense in some ways, as Arsenal certainly need some depth in the wide areas, but we haven’t seen anything concrete from other outlets and that deal would involve a large outlay on a player who would be competing for Bukayo Saka’s slot, which doesn’t make a huge amount of sense. We’re raising a gently sceptical eyebrow at the Olise link for now, and we haven’t seen much corroboration, but we don’t doubt that Arsenal would at least consider a bid at a £65m asking price.

The one remaining transfer rumour that needs to be gently debunked for now is the continued link to Ajax’s defensive prodigy Jorrel Hato. The 18-year-old Netherlands international definitely was a target, but he’s committed his short-term future to Ajax by signing a contract which runs until 2028 and now the asking price is being reported as €100m (£86.3m) – which Arsenal probably won’t be able to afford if they sign a striker and a central midfielder as well. This deal is almost certainly dead in the water for now, even if some of the more gossipy rumour outlets have insisted on printing it afresh recently.

Arsenal will likely look to bolster their defensive line but it looks unlikely that they’ll push hard for the kind of big-money signings that they’re occasionally being mentioned in connection with – if they do go in for a player like Sporting’s Ousmane Diomande, it will probably only be after they’re sure of what they’re spending on a striker and midfielder. We haven’t seen or heard anything sufficiently concrete to believe that Arsenal have a clear priority at the back as yet. They won’t go without a signing entirely, however, but don’t be surprised if it’s someone relatively unheralded to add depth, rather than a potential star starter.

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