Arteta ‘seduces’ Arsenal target after ‘calling’ Spain star to explain ‘big plans’ ahead of £21m transfer

Jason Soutar
Reported Arsenal targets Mikel Merino and Nico Williams celebrate a Spain victory
Mikel Merino and Nico Williams celebrate a Spain victory.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has ‘seduced’ Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Merino, who could join the Gunners for around £21m this summer, according to reports.

Merino came through the Osasuna youth academy and was signed by Borussia Dortmund for around £3.5million in 2016 after making 67 first-team appearances for the Spanish club.

After making only nine appearances for Dortmund, Merino joined Newcastle on a season-long loan in July 2017.

The deal was made permanent for a fee in the region of £6m a year later, but Merino was only officially a Newcastle player for 11 days, joining Real Sociedad for a small profit.

He impressed the St James’ Park fans during the year at the club and in six years at Sociedad, the 28-year-old has blossomed into a fine player.

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Merino has played 242 times for the Spanish outfit and has become a regular for Spain, making his debut in September 2020 and representing his country at the Summer Olympics in 2021.

The former Newcastle loanee now has 23 caps for his country and has featured in both of his side’s Euro 2024 matches, coming off the bench against Croatia and Italy.

Unfortunately for him, the similar Fabian Ruiz is a little bit better, and Manchester City’s Rodri is undroppable as the best defensive midfielder in the world.

Plenty of clubs will be keeping an eye on Merino at this summer’s European Championship, with Manchester United being linked with the player in March.

However, it is now Arsenal who are being strongly linked with the 28-year-old midfielder.

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According to reports in Spain (via Sport Witness), Barcelona are keen but face competition from the Gunners.

Out of contract next year, Merino is ‘not keen on signing an extension’, meaning Sociedad believe ‘all roads lead towards a transfer for around €25m’ (£21.1m).

Mikel Arteta is ‘leading the interest’ in the Spanish playmaker and knows he has an advantage over Barcelona as Hansi Flick’s side need to find the funds to land Merino.

The report claims that Arteta wants to land the player ‘no matter what’ and has ‘called’ the Sociedad star to explain the ‘big plans’ he has for him.

The ‘absolute confidence’ Arteta has in Merino has ‘seduced’ the Spain international, who is very open to joining Arsenal and returning to the Premier League.

A £21.1m transfer is ‘affordable’ for Arsenal and their pursuit indicates that Thomas Partey will leave the club this summer.

Like Merino, the Ghanaian is out of contract in 2025 and given his injury troubles, the Gunners are open to offers to avoid losing him for nothing next year.

A move to Saudi Arabia feels like the most plausible transfer and clubs from the Middle East did show an interest last summer.

Merino is not the only Spain player Arsenal are looking at, with Athletic Bilbao winger Nico Williams attracting Arteta’s attention.

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