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    Arsenal eyeing £49m “pace demon” who’d be lethal with Saka

    Arsenal have yet to pounce during this summer’s transfer window but there’s no sense of concern at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta and sporting director Edu are dedicated to bolstering the Premier League behemoths.

    One of the staples of the Gunners’ rise and rise in recent years has been the remarkable bouncebackability in the market, having navigated past various setbacks to create a balanced and elite-class squad.

    Benjamin Sesko, last week, broke Premier League hearts as he announced he would be staying at RB Leipzig. Aged 21, the Slovenian striker probably made a prudent call, continuing to build on his exploits of last season, posting 18 goals from 42 matches.

    Signing a centre-forward has plainly been a priority position for a while but given the emphatic form of Kai Havertz and a lack of top alternatives on the market, Arteta and Co may turn to other positions.

    Arsenal eyeing talented winger

    According to The Athletic’s Pol Ballus, Arsenal have placed Spain’s Euro 2024 star Nico Williams on their ‘wish list’, with the Athletic Bilbao winger earning quite the reputation as a fleet-footed, tricky customer.

    A range of Premier League rivals – and Barcelona – admire the 21-year-old ace but Arteta will hope that his exciting project and emphatic success over recent seasons will hold sway.

    Williams has a €58m (£49m) release clause in his contract and given that the Gunners have turned their transfer cannon away from the striker’s position, this might be a feasible deal for the north London outfit.

    Nico Williams’ style of play

    Born and raised in the Basque Country, Williams has enjoyed a dream start to his career, plying his trade alongside his brother, Inaki, and winning the Copa del Rey last season, ending a 40-year wait for a trophy.

    Nico Williams and Inaki Williams

    Last season, he scored eight goals and notched a whopping 19 assists across 37 appearances in all competitions, utilising his pace and power to surge into dangerous openings and wreak chaos on his adversaries.

    Evidencing such traits: as per FBref, the 5 foot 9 star ranks among the top 2% of attacking midfielders and wingers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for assists, the top 20% for shot-creating actions, the top 7% for progressive carries and the top 6% for successful take-ons per 90.

    Arsenal winger Gabriel Martinelli

    Such attributes have led FBref to place Gabriel Martinelli as a similar player to the Spaniard, with Arsenal’s left-sided forward also direct and devastating on his day but struggling to perform last season, scoring eight goals across 44 matches and adding only five assists.

    Martinelli, aged 23, has been described as “unplayable” by pundit Owen Hargreaves in the past but he left plenty to be desired last year, also creating, on average, 1.3 key passes and completing 1.1 dribbles per top-flight game. Williams, however, trumped him, averaging 1.5 key passes and 2.8 dribbles per match.

    These statistics suggest that he would come to The Emirates as an upgrade on the Brazil international, due to his superior quality in the final third when it comes to creating quality chances for his teammates.

    He registered 14 more assists in seven fewer appearances than Martinelli during the 2023/24 campaign and could provide Arsenal’s forwards with more opportunities to find the back of the net next term.

    He’s not yet a high-level goalscorer but this isn’t really at the front and centre of his style. Instead, Williams performs with a selfless, unshackled kind of gusto that allows him to pick out teammates and boost the overall attacking fluency of his team.

    Such players can have quite an effect, as has been evidenced by Williams’ performances with Spain at Euro 2024 thus far, notably enjoying a barnstorming display as his nation confidently defeated Italy 1-0 in their second group game, having already dispatched Croatia 3-0.

    Nico Williams: Euro 2024 Stats vs Italy

    Stats

    #

    Minutes played

    78′

    Touches

    60

    Accurate passes

    27/29

    Shots taken

    2

    Hit woodwork

    1x

    Key passes

    4

    Dribble attempts

    4/10

    Duels won

    6/21

    Stats via Sofascore

    Winning UEFA’s Player of the Match in that one, the exciting young wide forward has the creative and combative style to make a real impact in the Premier League, and Arsenal must ensure they are the ones to secure his services.

    Imagine Nico Williams & Bukayo Saka

    Playing with electric style down the left flank, Williams could be the perfect partner for Bukayo Saka on the alternate. Saka needs no introduction, having bloomed into one of the most prodigious talents in English football over the past several years.

    Bukayo Saka for Arsenal

    Like his Spanish counterpart, the Three Lions phenomenon was in imperious form last term, clinching 16 goals and nine assists from 35 Premier League matches, averaging 2.5 key passes, averaging 1.5 dribbles, averaging 5.9 successful duels.

    His creative expertise and authoritative performances were crucial to the success of Arteta’s side, and while many have called for a more prolific centre-forward, upgrading on the left flank to create a perfect sense of wide balance could be the key to success.

    Think, for a moment, about the options that would present themselves to captain Odegaard, defence-splitting moments unfurling like a flower in spring bloom.

    The Norwegian ranks among the top 4% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for assists, the top 2% for progressive passes and the top 1% for shot-creating actions per 90. A master distributor, he would have a duality of overlapping quality to wrap opposing defences in on themselves, constraining and suffocating.

    Related


    Arteta very close to first Arsenal summer signing in £42 million forward

    It would be quite the coup.

    The Gunners must now press ahead and secure a deal for the Spain international before the summer transfer window slams shut at the end of August, due to the quality he could add to Arteta’s squad next term.

    His statistics in LaLiga suggest that the ability is there for him to be an upgrade on Martinelli and a lethal partner for Saka at the top end of the pitch, which is why Williams could arrive in London as a fantastic and exciting signing for supporters to look forward to watching if they can get a deal over the line for him.



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