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Arsenal told major Riccardo Calafiori concern Mikel Arteta won't like to hear amid £40m gamble

Riccardo Calafiori
-Credit: (Image: James Baylis)


Arsenal are reportedly leading the race to sign Bologna and Italy centre-back Riccardo Calafiori. football.london understands the defender has emerged as the priority signing at this stage of the transfer window.

Calafiori's stock rose with his performances with Bologna last season, helping them qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history. He carried over his form to the European Championships with Italy and he's one of the tournament's stars who have been tipped with a big-money move.

A fee of around £40m has been touted in recent weeks but a clause in his contract that means the defender's former club, Basel, will receive 40% of any potential deal means Bologna may demand more.

Mikel Arteta and Edu Gaspar are looking to strengthen their options in depth in defence and Calafiori fits the profile well. The 22-year-old can play at centre-back or full-back, ticking the box of being a versatile option for the Gunners.

However, Arsenal have been warned of a potential concern if they signed Calafiori. Back when he was 16, playing for AS Roma's youth team, he was on the receiving end of a high challenge against Viktoria Plzen. The injury saw him sidelined for 347 days before returning to action in the 2019/20 season.

Since then, the defender has suffered a series of different types of injuries including a hamstring issue that kept him out for six months in 2021. According to Transfermarkt, he has missed over 560 days of action and over 150 games.

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Italian football expert, Richard Hall, has explained how Arsenal should be aware of the early knee injury Calafiori suffered at the start of his career. "He's seen as a secret that has got out in Italy. He's Roman, born and raised, who started off as a left-back," he told football.london.

"He had a significant knee injury very early in his career, so you have to be aware of that. It's a remarkable comeback. Since he made his professional debut in 2020, he has just improved.

"Like a lot of Italian players, he has a huge amount of maturity and resilience. In 2022, he was loaned to Genoa and gained experience in Serie A, showing great tactical skill before moving to Basel that summer. The Swiss league isn’t an easy league, believe it not, and that really helped him develop himself as a left wing-back and then at centre-back."

His injury record will be of concern for Arsenal and their recruitment team. The likes of Kieran Tierney, William Saliba, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Oleksandr Zinchenko have all suffered their own injury setbacks since joining the club.