Transfer news: Who could be on the move this summer?
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Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn has urged the Gunners to resist the temptation of signing Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona this summer, suggesting that Joe Willock could be the ready-made answer to their midfield dilemma. Arsenal are currently on the lookout for a top-class operator to fill the boots of Martin Odegaard, who has returned to Real Madrid after his half-season loan spell in north London.
The Norwegian playmaker successfully addressed Arsenal’s need for a creative spark, chipping in with three goal contributions and turning plenty of heads with a number of impressive performances.
However, his departure has threatened to leave a significant gap in the middle of the park for the Gunners, who will need to find the perfect replacement in order to stand any chance of building on this season’s disappointing efforts next time around.
A number of potential solutions have recently been mentioned in connection with a move, including Norwich City talisman Emiliano Buendia and Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Brandt.
Coutinho is another name to have been linked with Arsenal after failing to assert himself in Ronald Koeman’s first-team picture at Barca.
The former Liverpool man played just 12 matches in La Liga this season as the Catalan giants slumped to a third-placed finish behind both Madrid clubs.
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Despite his muted form in Spain, Coutinho established himself as one of the Premier League’s most feared opponents during his time with Liverpool and could be given the opportunity to recapture his form of old with a move to the Emirates Stadium.
Although the urge to sign a player of the 28-year-old’s calibre is likely to be strong for Arsenal this summer, Winterburn has claimed that his arrival would be underwhelming, suggesting that the Barca man’s presence could also hinder the progress of the club’s up-and-coming stars.
“I wouldn’t go down that line, we’ve got a lot of young talent coming through,” the 57-year-old told Goal.
“Unless he would be on the right wages or if there was a way to fit him in then it could be an option. It’s been touted around so much I don’t believe it’ll happen.
“Coutinho was very good at Liverpool, but since then I’ve not been impressed and I’m not convinced by it.”
The likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli have been successfully integrated into Arsenal’s senior ranks in recent years, with the former already impressing when called upon to deputise in the No 10 role.
Another academy graduate capable of doing the business is Joe Willock, who emerged as the Premier League’s in-form player during the final stages of the season while on loan at Newcastle United.
The 21-year-old scored in each of the Tyneside club’s final seven matches, with his efforts helping to ensure top-flight survival for another year, and Winterburn believes that he could soon be ready to make the step up at Arsenal as a result of his newly-found experience.
“Willock went on loan to get a lot more game time in the Premier League and he’s done that,” he continued.
“It’s difficult to assess them sometimes and that final step into the first team, we’ve seen it with Saka who’s been a revelation.
“But, one or two of the younger players who have been given a taste haven’t managed to make the step like Saka. Willock has been very strong in the cup competitions, but in the Premier League he hasn’t hit those heights for Arsenal.
“On the flip side, it might be down to the amount of game time he’s getting at that level, but he’s shown what he can do at Newcastle.
“He’s a player I really like, so I hope he is given a chance to come in and fill that role.”
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