Rice Rice Baby 🎼🎵
Arsenal are considering a move for Moises Caicedo and could once again go head-to-head with Chelsea in the transfer market as the race intensifies for the Brighton midfielder.
Brighton are thought to want a fee of more than £75 million for Caicedo, who in recent months has emerged as one of the Premier League’s most exciting young players.
Chelsea have long been regarded as the front-runners in the pursuit of Caicedo, who worked with Graham Potter at the Amex Stadium, but Telegraph Sport understands that Arsenal are now also showing interest in the 21-year-old as they consider their midfield targets.
Arsenal want to strengthen their midfield this month amid worries over a knee injury suffered by Mohamed Elneny. Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager, admitted on Wednesday that there are “some concerns” over Elneny, who is still being assessed.
Arteta added: “We need some more cover in midfield ideally if we can, but in this market it is pretty complicated to do that.”
Caicedo, an Ecuadorian international, would be an eye-wateringly expensive addition for Arsenal if they do decide to pursue a move for him in the coming days.
The league leaders have shown a willingness to invest in the squad this month, though, and were ready to sanction a deal worth up to around £85m including add-ons for Mykhailo Mudryk, before Chelsea made a more favourable offer to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Arsenal have already signed one player from Brighton in this transfer window, with Leandro Trossard arriving last week for an initial £21m. They have also added Poland defender Jakub Kiwior, who has joined from Spezia for £17.5m.
With Elneny’s current deal set to expire at the end of this season and Albert Sambi Lokonga struggling to impose himself in north London, Arsenal are keen to refresh their midfield in the short and long-term.
West Ham United’s Declan Rice is understood to be their top summer target but Arsenal’s interest in the England international is not expected to prevent them from trying to recruit another midfielder this month.
Reports in Belgium have suggested that Arsenal might turn to Everton’s Amadou Onana as they continue to evaluate their options in midfield. Arsenal could also look to make a loan move for an alternative target before the end of the month.
Caicedo has consistently impressed in the Premier League since making his first start in the competition, against Arsenal, in April last season. He has started all but one league match for Brighton this season, and has become one of their most important players.
Brighton sold Marc Cucurella to Chelsea in a £60m deal at the start of this campaign and they are now expecting to receive an even higher fee for Caicedo.
As reported by Telegraph Sport earlier this week, Chelsea have had approaches rejected for Caicedo and Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez but are expected to return with new offers for one or both of those players.
In an interview with the Brighton club website, published on Tuesday, Caicedo insisted he is not distracted by the speculation over his future.
“I am focused on Brighton,” he said. “I am here, I am playing every day. Things from outside don’t trouble me, nor does it take that focus away because I’m focused only on here.
“I handle [the speculation] well. You hear rumours here and there, but I only try to be focused on the club where I am now, the club which opened the doors for me to be playing every week.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal right-back Cedric Soares is close to completing a loan move to Fulham. Cedric has made only two appearances in the Premier League this season but is regarded as an influential player behind the scenes.
As reported by Telegraph Sport earlier this month, Arsenal have shown interest in signing Real Valladolid right-back Ivan Fresneda in a deal that could be worth around £15m. They face competition from elsewhere, however, with Borussia Dortmund also thought to be in the race.