Arsenal are hard at work behind the scenes now readying their charge for the top four next season.
What’s the word?
In order to get closer to an elusive spot in the Champions League, Arsenal need greater quality and depth in their young squad.
A lack of clean sheets towards the back end of the campaign was a worry but so too were the lack of goals.
The Gunners plan to fix that final problem by signing a new forward and a report on Friday brought great excitement in that department.
According to the Telegraph, Arsenal are considering a move for Leeds United’s Raphinha.
The Brazilian is widely expected to leave Elland Road behind this summer with Barcelona also interested in securing what could be a £60m deal.
Alexis Sanchez 2.0
Arsenal have a rich history of South American footballers in Islington with the likes of Gilberto Silva and Edu leaving behind fond memories.
Gabriel Martinelli is the latest Brazilian sensation on the block but one man from that region stands tall above any other South American to don the famous red and white.
That happens to be Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean enjoyed a wonderful stint at the Emirates Stadium before it was curtailed rather prematurely and in controversial fashion by Manchester United.
Do you want Raphinha at Arsenal?
There were rumours that his teammates weren’t keen on him but even if the forward did distance himself from others, he was a world-class footballer.
Alexis bagged 80 goals in 166 outings for Arsenal, a record that was aided by a mighty haul of 30 goals and 18 assists in the 2016/17 campaign.
His exploits in the final third were magical and there are plenty of comparisons to be drawn between him and Raphinha.
Sanchez’s flair and technique was astounding as he would twinkle toe his way past opponents before beating the goalkeeper in what tended to be rather cheeky ways.
The Leeds winger might not have the same audacity to his play but he does boast flair and trickery. Crucially, the man who reporter Phil Hay claimed has “the feet of a ballet dancer”, is also capable of finding the net regularly with 11 goals in 2021/22.
However, it’s their never say die attitude and the defensive side of the game where they are rather alike.
Raphinha doesn’t just offer goals but he’s also great at pressing and defending for his team too.
For instance, throughout the course of this season the former Rennes winger produced 3.3 successful pressures per game. In comparison, Sanchez managed 3.75 in 2017/18, the campaign in which he left Arsenal midway through for Man United.
Although his running stats plummeted in his final few months in Islington, that was generally an impressive part of his game.
Indeed, numerous members of the Arsenal team would regularly hail how hard he works in training and off the ball, an area where Raphinha impresses in greatly.
Former Gunner Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain once said of him: “He works harder than I think I’ve seen anyone work.”
Similar sentiments were offered by Mikel Arteta when he was still playing and featuring alongside the Chile international.
The Spaniard commented: “The goals and tricks and flicks are highlighted, but we need to remember the work.
“South Americans can find it harder in England, particularly as forward players.
“But he’s a bull. He wants to go against the wall every time. He wants toget better and better, all the time. I’d rather play with him than against him.”
A lot of that can also be used to describe Raphinha which means if he does end up penning terms in the capital this summer, it will be an extraordinarily impressive acquisition.
It would be a remarkable statement from Stan Kroenke, Edu and co as Arsenal may end up finally replacing their Chilean pocket rocket in Sanchez. Just imagine that.
AND in other news, Arsenal eye bid for £76.5m-rated “fighter” who “always creates”, he’s better than Saka…