Arsenal make Johan Bakayoko enquiry as transfer question lingers ahead of Mikel Arteta plan

Johan Bakayoko has been the reported subject of an inquiry by Arsenal
-Credit: (Image: Joris Verwijst/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

One of the most asked-for transfers at Arsenal is a player who can arrive and provide the much-needed competition and rotation potential for talisman Bukayo Saka. The winger has started to show signs of fatigue and injury where before he was one of if not the most-used player in the Gunners side.

He missed games against Manchester City and the final day title decider against Everton due to minor problems. These may seem small and inconsequential considering Arsenal won both those games, but being still so young, this can of course develop into bigger issues later down the line.

Being able to rotate in between matches and bring off Saka sooner in games while maintaining confidence of a win is a massive ask. However, recent links to a new name have perhaps given some semblance of hope that this might be possible.

According to Belgian outlet DHnet, the Gunners are now the favourites to sign PSV winger Johan Bakayoko - this was supported by Dutch journalist Rik Elfrink, who reported that an inquiry had been made. The impressive winger is country with Belgium at the European Championships following a season where the 21-year-old scored 14 goals and got 14 assists in 49 games.

A quick glance at his FBRef profile and you are met with a sea of green as his comparative stats to fellow wingers in Europe’s league’s outside the top five light up. He is in the 93rd percentile for non-penalty goals per 90 (0.43), the 95th for shots per 90 (3.47), the 92nd for assists per 90 (0.32) and the 89th for shot-creating actions per 90 (5.2).

He is in the 92nd percentile for pass completion (81.5%), the 99th for progressive carries per 90 (7.11), the 97th for successful take-ons per 90 (3.32) and the 94th for touches in the opposition penalty area per 90 (6.35). These numbers are incredibly impressive and for reference, his numbers in non-penalty goals per 90, shots per 90, pass completion and progressive carries per 90 are better than Saka's.

READ MORE: Arsenal summer plans confirmed as three former Gunners set for sensational north London return

READ MORE: Arsenal handed £71.2m transfer ultimatum over Viktor Gyokeres deal amid competitive alternate

The bigger question is of course why would the Belgian make the switch knowing that Saka is already at the club. He is of the requisite quality to be starting games upon his next step up and that is not guaranteed at the Gunners, although he would surely get plenty of time.

He hasn’t played on the left wing since 2022, when he was much younger. However, he did score in a 2-1 win over Bodo/Glimt when he and PSV were in the same group as Arsenal in the Europa League. Whether or not Mikel Arteta could unlock something more from the wide man in other positions is unknown but perhaps there is a hint of that as a possibility.