Arsenal move closer to ‘imminent transfer’ for Italian with £26m release clause

Joe Williams
Arsenal target Ibrahima Bamba

Premier League side Arsenal are moving closer to the signing of Vitoria Guimaraes defensive midfielder Ibrahima Bamba, according to reports.

The Gunners have already been active in the January transfer window with the signings of forward Leandro Trossard from Brighton – who joined after Chelsea beat them to the signing of Mykhaylo Mudryk – and defender Jakub Kiwior from Spezia.

Midfield is one position that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has publicly admitted needs strengthening to help the Gunners for the rest of the season.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Arteta said: “Well, we need some more cover in midfield ideally if we can. In this market, it’s pretty complicated to do that.

“The most important thing is that we get the performances and the time on the pitch that we need with the players we have available today that are already really good.

“If there’s anything else available that can make us better we’ll look at it.

“I don’t think he (Mohamed Elneny) will be [available for Friday]. He had some issues with his knee that we are assessing at the moment and we will have to see how he evolves in the next couple of days.

“There are concerns, especially (because) Mo is a player who never complains about anything. But let’s see.”

READ: What every Premier League club still needs with a week to go in the January transfer window…

And now Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Notícias (via Sport Witness) claim that Arsenal are ‘on the front line’ for Bamba’s signature with the Italian able to play at centre-back and in defensive midfield.

It is understood that the Premier League are ‘tightening the siege’ for the 20-year-old who has a €30m (£26m) release clause.

The report adds that Arsenal are now closing in on an ‘imminent transfer’ after his agent was spotted in London this week.

Arsenal are going for the Premier League title this season with Arteta’s men currently holding a five-point lead, with a game in hand, over second-placed Manchester City, who they will face in the FA Cup fourth round tomorrow.

Asked if his relationship with Pep Guardiola had changed now the two are going head to head for the title, Arteta replied: “I always hoped that that was going to be the case one day and it’s happening this season.

“That’s not going to change any friendship, the moments that we have, how important he is in my life, how important he is in my profession.

“We’re both willing to win and defend our clubs in any way and that’s always been the case since day one.

“I would prefer to do it with someone else to be fair. I want the best for him, genuinely, and when you are challenging with someone like this something comes in between that.

“So it’s a strange feeling, it is what it is, and that’s our challenge.”

READ MORE: Mikel Arteta isn’t the only one. Every top manager needs a bit of knobbery about them…