Chelsea plot Arsenal hijack despite ‘green light’ as Romano reveals ‘truth’ on ‘furious’ transfer collapse

Lewis Oldham
Arsenal Chelsea transfer target Riccardo Calafiori
Italy star Riccardo Calafiori is linked with Arsenal and Chelsea.

According to reports, Arsenal have been given the “green light” to sign Bologna defender Riccardo Calafiori, but Chelsea are set to make an “approach”.

Calafiori has emerged as a key target for Arsenal. He shone for Serie A outfit Bologna during his debut season in 2023/24 and was one of Italy’s better performers at Euro 2024.

Calafiori to Arsenal or Chelsea?

The 22-year-old has previously been operated at left-back but ex-Bologna boss Thiago Motta successfully turned him into a centre-back before leaving for Juventus this summer.

The versatile defender’s form has caught the attention of clubs around Europe. It was claimed on Wednesday afternoon that Arsenal were ‘close’ to signing him.

However, transfer expert Fabrizio Romano claims Chelsea are “prepared to approach” Bologna as they have a “different strategy”.

“Both clubs are really interested in Calafiori, and now Arsenal have presented their proposal to the Italy international – it’s a long-term contract, the salary is not an issue at all, and they also presented their project to the player, and he is open to joining Arsenal in case they can reach an agreement with Bologna,” Romano said in his Daily Briefing column.

“So, there is already a green light from Calafiori to Arsenal, but what about Chelsea? My understanding is that Chelsea are prepared to approach Bologna, and that they will try to include players in the negotiation. It’s a different strategy, but Chelsea are still there, even if Arsenal are the favourites at the moment.”

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Romano has also explained why Calafiori’s proposed move to Juventus collapsed, with Bologna “furious” with their Serie A rivals.

“It’s also important to note that Calafiori has given the green light to Arsenal because Juventus are almost no longer in the race. For weeks and weeks, Juventus wanted Calafiori, they had an agreement on the salary with Calafiori, but they are now considered out as they cannot agree on a deal with Bologna,” Romano added.

“The truth is that Bologna are furious with Juventus after their manager Thiago Motta made the move there this summer, and so that’s why they are furious with Juve and they would prefer to sell the player abroad.

“Now they have the chance, because Arsenal are there and Arteta is really keen to bring Calafiori to the club.

“The relationship between Arsenal and Bologna is also very good after they previously negotiated the deal for Takehiro Tomiyasu, so let’s see if Chelsea can come up with something, or if Arsenal will now win the race for one of the most talented young defenders around.

“Despite rumours about PSG and Bayer Leverkusen, I’m told that the only two clubs in the race are Arsenal and Chelsea, with Arsenal ahead at the moment.”

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Arsenal also have a plan if they miss out on Calafiori as “three names” are on their “shortlist in that position”.

“Arsenal have a shortlist with three names in that position – left-footed defenders who can play centre-back or left-back,” Romano continued.

“Jorrel Hato fits the bill in that respect and also remains one of the most appreciated talents by Arsenal, but for now Ajax still insist to keep him for one more season.

“So, Calafiori is exactly what Arsenal are looking for in that position, and Mikel Arteta has approved the potential deal and we’re now waiting for the next step. Let’s see what will happen between Arsenal and Bologna, this is now the crucial point.”