Arsenal continue to be linked with centre-backs. Several newspapers are speculating that a move for Barcelona’s Umtiti could be on the cards, but an update from Spain today suggests that Arteta could be looking elsewhere in La Liga in his effort to strengthen the back line.
Bilbao-based outlet DEIA Canal Athletic claim that Arteta has set his sights on Bilbao’s 23-year-old centre-back, Unai Núñez, whose contract is said to have a €30 million release clause. The Spanish player is said to be stalling on a contract renewal offer from his current club and recently signed with a representative agency that wants to “extend itself across the European market”. Unai made his Spain debut in 2019 and has previously attracted interest from the likes of West Ham and Everton.
Overall, it is impossible to predict what Arsenal’s back four will look like next season. David Luiz (32), Mustafi (27), and Sokratis (31) have performed surprisingly well under Arteta to protect Bernd Leno’s goal. However, despite reports that Arsenal may trigger a one-year extension in Luiz’s contract, neither of the 3 players is guaranteed a spot next season as they will face competition from the club’s younger prospects. Chambers is sidelined for the rest of the season and Rob Holding has so far failed to return to the impressive standards he had set for himself prior to suffering a serious injury at the end of 2018 (an injury that kept him out until September 2019). William Saliba will take time to integrate into the squad, but fans will surely be delighted to see him arrive.
Amidst all the uncertainty, it would be a relief to see Arsenal bring in an exciting, established name; someone Arteta can count on. Although Unai is a promising prospect, it is difficult to say whether he meets that requirement. He would certainly be a cheaper alternative to the likes of Dayot Upamecano, so if Arteta truly is a fan of the player, this could be a story worth watching.
Header photo: Iker Merodio, 2017