A revival of late has seen Arsenal find their way back in the ‘top four’ chase. But the Gunners are already keeping an eye open to wrapping up deals for the upcoming campaign and reportedly reached out to Manchester United skipper Antonio Valencia who is set to depart this summer after a decade-long service at the Theatre of Dreams.
The 33-year-old has rarely featured this term for the Red Devils, and the club have also decided not to trigger the one-year extension of his contract. The player, therefore, is weighing up a move amid an array of options and Arsenal are indeed one of them as confirmed by his father while speaking to El Universo.
“Arsenal, West Ham, Inter Milan and one club from China are options, but in football, everything is changing. He wants to choose the best option, but above all, he wants to sign a contract for two years. Not for the money, but for peace and hopefully, he told me, be hired by a team that fights for important things.”
The Ecuadorian was signed in by Sir Alex Ferguson following the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite featuring as a wide attacker initially, Valencia later settled in as a right fullback who used to offer his presence high up the pitch with timely overlapping runs, crosses as well as cut insides. His physicality and directness has injected more firepower down the wide areas for Manchester United. However, the persistent injury problems in recent months saw him slipping down the pecking order behind Ashley Young and Diogo Dalot.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are lacking quality in the right-back slot with Hector Bellerin out for the season after rupturing his left anterior cruciate ligament. Stephan Lichtsteiner, 35, has failed to justify his stature and the Gunners are now highly reliant on youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles who has done a pretty decent job so far while featuring as a right wingback.
Unai Emery won’t be having a hefty transfer kitty for summer and must find a way out for such immediate yet short-term fixes without splashing the cash. Valencia, on a Bosman move, would be a clever piece of business by the North Londoners as his enormous experience at the highest level of English football would enrich the Gunners irrespective of Bellerin’s recovery and a possible return later this year.
Although West Ham, the other London club, have roped in several free agents in past seasons, the United veteran should prefer a transfer to Arsenal, a team ambitious enough to fight for silverware in spite of ambiguity over their financial status.
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