Arsenal given Riccardo Calafiori transfer hope as Mikel Arteta dream defender strategy goes on

Riccardo Calafiori has been linked with a summer transfer to Arsenal
-Credit: (Image: Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Arsenal have been linked with a number of players in a variety of positions with learning that central midfield is the summer priority. However, there are still needs in other positions and recent links to Bologna defender Riccardo Calafiori have again highlighted the desire to strengthen the defensive options.

Helping Thiago Motta’s side qualify for the Champions League alongside another supposed Arsenal target, Joshua Zirkzee, the Italian international’s performances have earned him a starting spot in the national team at the Euros where he has continued to impress. This has naturally attracted more than just interest from Arsenal with Motta’s new club Juventus said to be leading the charge.

However, Juve are also reportedly keen on Arsenal defender Jakub Kiwior and it could be that the Pole moving one way sees Calafiori find a pathway to north London. A left-footed centre-half with the ability to play left-back – I could be describing either of the aforementioned players but considering it is both this makes a merry-go-round of moves all the more feasible.

Looking into the Italian’s metrics, he ranks extremely well across the board according to FBRef. His five assists mean he ranks in the 99th percentile of centre-halves for that specific metric.

But in terms of his 1.76 shot-creating actions per 90, this is hardly a fluke as the Italian loves to carry the ball forward. This is showcased by his 1.07 carries per 90 (81st percentile compared to other players in his position across Europe’s top five leagues).

Defensively he compares well to Kiwior. In terms of interceptions per 90 (1.92 > 0.68) and blocks per 90 (1.46 > 0.81) clearances per 90 (2.84 > 2.17) and aerial duels won per 90 (2.3 > 1.36) he outranks the Arsenal man.

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He looks more technically superior in terms of his on-the-ball ability but is not as much of a progressive passer compared to Kiwior. At just 22 however, he has age on his side and is currently considered one of the most exciting defenders on the market.

Arteta has leaned toward a back four with centre-halves who are comfortable playing in full-back positions. Calafiori fulfils that profile to a tee and would see a continuation of this style of defensive line which has also been so prominent for title rivals Manchester City

He would be the second Italian in Arteta’s squad, joining Jorginho who perhaps can do Arsenal something of a favour when in conversation with his international teammate over the Euros. The left-back role could certainly be sold to Calafiori with plenty of chances to rotate there and with Gabriel Magalhaes who would appreciate having a player to offer better cover and rotation.