Do Arsenal need to spend big money on Raphinha?

TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 06: Raphinha of Brazil looks on during the international friendly match between Japan and Brazil at National Stadium on June 06, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 06: Raphinha of Brazil looks on during the international friendly match between Japan and Brazil at National Stadium on June 06, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images) /

Whisper it, but Arsenal are nailing the summer transfer window. Shh. Keep it to ourselves.

The club are going about their business in a manner that supporters haven’t seen in years, and their efficiency in the market is spooking rivals. Edu Gaspar, meanwhile, following consistent condemnation is finally delivering. Mikel Arteta knows what he wants, and Edu is trying his utmost to satisfy the Spaniard.

Fabio Vieira joined the club earlier this week just days after Arsenal had agreed a deal with Porto. The Portuguese midfielder will add another creative spark and ensure Martin Odegaard doesn’t get too comfortable in the XI. Now, the club looked to have acquired Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City.

Their interest in the Brazilian has been long-standing and well-documented, but they didn’t allow the situation to develop into a saga as we’ve seen in recent windows with the likes of Manuel Locatelli and Dusan Vlahovic. The Gunners have agreed a £45m deal with City for Jesus and the forward’s move to north London is expected to be completed in the next week or so. Thus, he’ll enjoy the vast majority of Arteta’s pre-season.

Arsenal aren’t done there, though. Lisandro Martinez and Raphinha are next on the agenda.

Do Arsenal need to spend big money on Leeds winger Raphinha?

Ajax defender Martinez would be a superb bit of business. The Argentine is a freakish technician who’ll elevate Arteta’s build-up further while providing high-quality depth at three positions. That move is a no-brainer, but I’m questioning whether a move for Leeds man Raphinha is a necessity.

The Brazilian international is, without doubt, a superb footballer who has already excelled in the Premier League. His profile is reminiscent of Angel Di Maria and he’s one of the very few wide players – with many evolving into ‘inside forwards’ – that can single-handedly hold down a flank and isolate a defender one-vs-one. He epitomises the beauty of wing play, and there’s no doubt he’d seriously compete with starboy Bukayo Sako for minutes if he was to arrive.

It’s the sort of signing City make to ensure they have at least two high-quality options at each position – a model the Gunners are trying to follow.

However, Leeds are demanding a huge £65m fee for his services and they’re unlikely to budge from that valuation after agreeing a deal with the Cityzens for Kalvin Phillips. That’s a lot of money for a player that won’t be a guaranteed starter – not in his favourite position, at least. You also have to consider Arsenal’s more pressing need in central midfield and the fact that Barcelona and Chelsea are believed to be the player’s favoured destinations.

The club’s interest in Youri Tielemans is said to have cooled due to their pursuit of other targets, and their passing on the Belgian is a decision they could live to regret.

For me, the addition of Jesus has lessened the need to sign Raphinha, as good as he is. Jesus is able of providing cover for Saka down the right and Arteta could still call upon Nicolas Pepe if a buyer isn’t found this summer. Jesus performed superbly down the right for Pep Guardiola last season, with the City boss often utilising him out wide in the biggest games against higher defensive lines. The Brazilian would relentlessly run in behind and stretch the opposition, with his profile completely contrasting the likes of Saka and Raphinha, who want the ball to their feet as much as possible.

Arteta could similarly deploy Jesus with Eddie Nketiah functioning as the #9. But, Jesus is believed to have been promised a leading role in Arsenal’s attack by the Arsenal boss. Whether that means he’ll exclusively play central, however, remains to be seen. It’d be a waste to not use him out wide, where he’s been so effective in the past.

Thus, you could argue that Jesus’ arrival leaves Arsenal with ample cover for Saka down the right, especially if Nketiah continues to prove his worth at the highest level. Raphinha is superb, but his arrival would perhaps be more of a bonus rather than a necessity.

The left-side of Arsenal’s three-man midfield is a more pressing need. The Gunners can’t have Granit Xhaka uncomfortably performing that function for another season.

However, if Arsenal sign Raphinha on top of Leicester’s Tielemans, then, well, it’s nothing short of an Edu Gaspar masterclass, folks.