Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars has confirmed that Hakim Ziyech will leave this summer. He would answer all of the transfer problems that Arsenal must navigate.
Arsenal have lots of transfer problems to solve this summer. By ‘problem’, I do not mean position. They have plenty of areas of the team that require investment, certainly, but there are other contextual developments that must all be satisfied. They are the problems that must be solved.
Chief among them is money. The Gunners reportedly only have around £45 million to spend, plus whatever they recoup in player sales and a little more if they qualify for the Champions League through the Europa League final in late-May. Combine this with the number of positions that need spending, and you can see the depth of the resistance that Unai Emery and Raul Sanllehi are fighting against.
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Moreover, there is still no technical or sporting director since Sven Mislintat’s exit in February, the squad is deceptively old with lots of overpaid, underperforming stars, and there are plenty of other top European clubs chasing after the best players. As a result, Arsenal must look for the following player: a cheap, young solution to a specific position that neither prevents them from spending in other areas and overinflates an already stretched wage budget. And it would be useful if negotiations were swift as well. That, as I am sure you can tell, is a very specific and hard-to-find remit, no matter the position you are trying to find a solution for.
Nevertheless, there may be a potential target who solves all of these problems, whose possible signing would satisfy all of these rather strenuous conditions: Hakim Ziyech of Ajax.
First, he is a winger with great dribbling ability who has scored 21 goals and registered 24 assists in all competitions last season. He solves a position of need. Second, he is 26, not quite as young as some would hope, but certainly still with five or six high-quality years in front of him. Thirdly, he will be available for £25 million with a release clause in contract. Fourthly, and most importantly, Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars has confirmed that he will leave this summer:
“He leaves when a top club comes. He is in focus because of his achievements in the Champions League. Many big clubs are buzzing around him. We promised Hakim [that we would] agree to a good transfer.”
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That seems like a slam-dunk signing to me. There is one issue: lots of other teams are interested in his services, Bayern Munich chief among them, with Manchester United, Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund also being named as potential destinations. Can Arsenal really attract a burgeoning star over any of those teams? It will be difficult, especially if they do not secure Champions League football.
But that does not mean there is no point in trying. Perhaps Ziyech might be considered about regular playing time at Bayern or Liverpool. Maybe he is concerned with United’s trajectory and wants to be the star of a football club, as he would be at Arsenal. I do not know, but you only find these things out by making an approach.
Arsenal will be hamstrung greatly in the transfer window this summer because of their financial restrictions, their lack of a technical director, and just the sheer amount of business they need to conduct. That comprises a very specific remit for potential signings. It is quite remarkable, then, that Ziyech ostensibly satisfies all of them.