In the latest transfer news Arsenal have been linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund center back Manuel Akanji, while Chelsea have been linked with Barcelona youngster Xavier Mbuyamba.
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Starting in north London, Arsenal are said to be prioritizing defensive additions in the next transfer window as Mikel Arteta aims to tighten up the Gunners and continue his impressive first steps as the new man in charge at the Emirates Stadium.
According to German outlet FussballTransfers.com, Akanji is a player they like the look of and opened talks about in January. Akanji, 24, is valued at $30 million by the Bundesliga giants and they would be willing to do business if offered that for the Swiss defender who has under two years left on his current contract.
Arsenal may not have that kind of cash to splash this summer, though, as they’ve asked players and staff to take a wage cut and have been consistently linked with swap deals throughout the transfer window.
That said, if Arteta can bring in some funds by moving on unwanted stars, Akanji seems like a good fit. Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, David Luiz, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi have all struggled at times and Pablo Mari’s arrival on loan is an intriguing option.
There’s no doubt Arsenal need an imposing figure at center back and Akanji fits the bill, although the report also claims that Lyon are keen on the former Basel defender. Akanji to Arsenal would make a lot of sense.
Heading to west London, Chelsea have also been linked with a center back and that is Barcelona teenager Xavier Mbuyamba.
The 18-year-old Dutchman is 6 feet, 4 inches tall and had a trial with Chelsea previously but couldn’t sign for them due to their FIFA transfer ban. Instead Mbuyamba signed for Barcelona, where he aims to rise through the ranks.
However, his agent Carlos Barros had the following to say in a recent interview with the Dutch outlet Voetbal International as Chelsea are clearly frontrunners to sign him.
“Almost all major clubs in Europe have asked about Xavier. Real Madrid are also there, they are serious about their youth system, but that would of course be a sensitive switch. Juventus and Inter are interested, as are top clubs from Germany and England. Chelsea have the best papers. Of course we discussed this extensively last year. Chelsea gave a fantastic presentation.
“There is a unique football atmosphere there. You immediately sit with the first-team players during lunch and the club has outlined a very ambitious plan for Xavier. They really think that in one to two years, he can be in the first team. Frank Lampard has of course already proven that he is not afraid to play with young players. Being in the starting line-up at Chelsea at the age of 20 would, of course, be great.”
So, it seems like the Blues are keen to keep giving young players a chance and they were also linked with Lille center back Gabriel earlier this week.
Improving Chelsea’s defensive record is a must for Frank Lampard as his young side sit in fourth place in the Premier League table but have conceded the ninth-highest amount of goals this season.
Fikayo Tomori, Kurt Zouma, Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger have all played at center back this season in a back three or back four system, and Chelsea’s defensive unit has been generally inconsistent.
Chelsea are one of a few Premier League clubs who seem pretty well set financially amid the coronavirus pandemic but they have long invested in the best young talents and signing Mbuyamba fits in with their model.