Arsenal are reportedly the most interested club in the race of Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz this summer…
THE LOWDOWN: NAPOLI DAYS NUMBERED
The Spaniard is valued at a hefty £49.5m by Transfermarkt but significantly his contract is due to expire at the end of next season.
If Napoli can’t tie him down in the next couple of months, they may view the summer transfer window as their last opportunity to cash in, knowing that Ruiz could negotiate pre-contract terms with foreign clubs come January 2023.
The 26-year-old has split his minutes so far this season between central midfield (23 games) and defensive midfield roles (13) and could add some valuable versatility and flexibility to any interested party if he moves.
With Napoli, he has been a regular for some time now, making more than 160 appearances during his time in Italy. Of course, interest in Ruiz is nothing brand new when it comes to English clubs.
Newcastle United and Everton were said to have prepared moves for the Spaniard just a few months back, and the Toon could well revisit that plan in the summer window.
However, Arsenal are now in the frame for the Spanish international, and also believed to be the club with the most interest in his services.
THE LATEST: HIGHEST INTEREST
According to reports from Napoli Piu, the Gunners are said to be the team who hold the highest interest in the midfield star, who has long been tipped for a move elsewhere.
The report goes on to state because of the new financial fair play rules in Italy, the Serie A club may be forced to sell their star midfielder this summer and that they will consider bids for no less than €40m (£34.3m).
THE VERDICT: STUNNING UPGRADE
The Spanish playmaker has come leaps and bounds since joining Napoli from Real Betis in July 2018 establishing himself as one of the best midfielders in Serie A in the last four years while also establishing a foothold in the Spanish national side.
According to SofaScore, he is the second-best performing player in the squad with an impressive score rating of 7.21 behind Lorenzo Insigne, and has so far registered seven goals and four assists in the Italian top-flight from 31 starts.
These numbers are impressive for a player who has played in central midfield and defensive midfield for much of the campaign under Luciano Spalletti in Naples.
Recently dubbed “spectacular” by his former boss at Real Betis Quique Setien, Ruiz is a passing metronome, possessing tremendous vision, flexibility, passing range, deadly through balls and a wand of left boot that has provided so much flair to Napoli’s attacking play this season.
The £48k-p/w star clearly offers a lot in an attacking sense, while according to SofaScore he is also reliable defensively, with a 92% pass accuracy, 1.1 key passes per game, and four big chances created whilst losing possession just 8.2 times per game.
It’s clear that Ruiz, who was hailed as “agile” by Hoffenheim defender Diadie Samassekou, can provide an upgrade when it comes to delivering passes accurately to build play and holding the ball in his possession much better than those currently starting in Arteta’s side.
According to FBRef, he’s provided the fifth-most passes into the opposition penalty area (178), which is considerably more than the Gunners’ highest player in this metric, Granit Xhaka (146), and again reinforces the idea that he is indeed one of Serie A’s best creative enforcers.
For that reason, he would indeed be a stunning upgrade on Mikel Arteta’s current midfield options next season.