Arsenal have stepped up their interest in signing Moises Caicedo from Brighton in the wake of a potential season-ending injury to Mohamed Elneny.
Two days after head coach Mikel Arteta admitted a knee problem for Elneny meant a replacement was ‘ideally' needed, the Premier League leaders have seen a £60m ($74m) bid for Caicedo rejected by Brighton.
Elneny is the primary backup to starting midfielder Thomas Partey, so it is no surprise that Arsenal are trying to find some midfield muscle to continue their title push.
The No.6 position has proved vital in Arteta’s system this season, not only does it give Martin Odegaard creative freedom and allows Granit Xhaka to play a more advanced and direct role on the left-hand side, but the No.6 also carries the ball and is capable of playing progressive passes.
Partey has excelled in this role all season, but his injury history will leave Arteta worried that they are undermanned at the position. With Elneny out, an injury to Partey could see him replaced with Sambi Lokonga, but Arteta has shown little faith in him as he has only featured in 11% of available minutes in the Premier League this season.
Another option is to move Xhaka deeper into his old role, but this will disrupt the system that has seen Arsenal gain 50 points in just 19 Premier League games.
EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal have submitted £60m bid to sign Moises Caicedo as new midfielder ????⚪️???? #AFC
Chelsea had £55m verbal proposal rejected this January as Brighton hope to keep the player — but Arsenal are now pushing.
Negotiations enter into key stages for Caicedo’s future. pic.twitter.com/WZp3RKRdbx
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 27, 2023
Although Caicedo predominantly plays as a box-to-box midfielder for Brighton, his profile matches that of a No. 6. He has been involved in 3.7 50-50 duels per-90 in the league, which is more than Rodri (2.7) and Declan Rice (2.5).
Still only 21, Caicedo also averages 6.1 challenges won per 90, this ranks 12th among all midfielders (min. 100 challenges) in comparison to Thomas Partey’s 5.1. Additionally, his 1.8 aerial duels won per 90 is 17th among central midfielders (min. 20 aerial duels won), which is slightly higher than Partey’s 1.5.
Caicedo has also displayed his range as a passer, with his 118 line-breaking passes completed ranking 4th among all central midfielders in the Premier League this season, with only Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg (159), Rodri (148) and Partey (128) ahead of him. Caicedo has also created 19 chances for Brighton in the Premier League this season, compared to Partey’s 12 for the leaders.
A new midfielder has reportedly been a long-term target for Arsenal's recruitment team. Declan Rice had emerged as a player strongly linked with a switch to north London from nearby West Ham, but a formal bid for Caicedo means Arsenal are now keen on the player Brighton value at £75m ($93m).
Moises Caicedo and Rodri have won the most 50/50 duels in the Premier League this season ???? pic.twitter.com/jKdGyI7VqC
— PFF FC (@PFF_FC) January 14, 2023