Arsenal now know next transfer for Mikel Arteta after Thomas Partey alternative decision made

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
-Credit: (Image: Mike Egerton/PA Wire)

Martin Zubimendi has spoken once more about the prospect of leaving Real Sociedad this summer as he continues catch the attention of clubs across Europe. The 25-year-old is currently away with Spain at the European Championship but remains a figure of immense interest.

Arsenal are long-term admirers of Zubimendi, who still has another three years on his contract at La Real, but no progress has been made toward a deal and other players are being looked at instead, understands. He was considered in January when a new midfielder was high on the priority list and was a player liked a lot by Mikel Arteta but he has so far shown no intent to push for a move away.

The Gunners face a midfield revamp this summer with Thomas Partey entering the final 12 months of his contract and an exit for him still possible. Fabio Vieira could also move on while Emile Smith Rowe is in the same camp. Jorginho, at 32, is not a viable candidate for years to come either.

Zubimendi has long been highlighted as a replacement for any one of these. Bruno Guimaraes is another that the club have spent considerable time watching. An exit for Zubimendi looks increasingly unlikely, though.

Earlier this month he had already played coy on talks of a transfer. “I mainly look for the benefit of the national team; I am not thinking about what I can win in this European Championship [by impressing other clubs],” he said when asked about his future. “All my energy is focused on the group, on winning it, and the individual will be a consequence of all this that will come later. I’m not thinking about this now.”

Now, he has opened up even more on the promising work at La Real, where he has risen to become an irreplaceable part of Imanol Alguacil's team. "In the end they are not specific years, it is a long project with many years entering Europe," he said of what is ahead personally and as a team.

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"And this next step that we want to take to be closer to the top four, well, it is difficult. We have to see that the project is there, but It's not always easy to improve on the previous season."

La Real finished sixth last season, a drop of two places and 11 points from their even more impressive 2022/23 campaign that saw them qualify for the Champions League. Despite not being blown away by Paris Saint-Germain in Europe they struggled to make much of the two-legged tie and went out limply.

It will be the Europa League for Zubimendi and La Real next season. That hasn't lowered him in the estimations of other top clubs though, and there is still plenty watching him at Euro 2024 (when he gets on the pitch). Zubimendi is still focused on the job at hand though and isn't planning to leave just yet.

"I can't tell you because I haven't thought about it," he said of completing a transfer in the coming months. "I feel very loved, by the people I love and, for the moment, I see it [a transfer] far away.

"Does it bother them to ask me about my future? At first yes, but now I already know. I understand. I know how this thing goes about football, markets and journalism. I have to assimilate it and that's it."

Alguacil also expects his man to stay. "There have been rumours about Zubi with many big teams," the coach said in May. "He is a great player; this year he showcased it in the Champions League. There has been a lot of talk for many weeks, it is good for the club and for the kid. Surely next year he will be here."