Calafiori signs, Kiwior sold, Zinchenko dropped - Dream Arsenal defence with Mikel Arteta transfer

Riccardo Calafiori of Italy celebrates at full time during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Italy and Albania at Football Stadium Dortmund on June 15, 2024 in Dortmund, Germany.
-Credit: (Image: (Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images))

Arsenal are pushing in an attempt to sign Bologna's Riccardo Calafiori. Mikel Arteta is keen to add another defender to his squad as they prepare to challenge for the Premier League title once again. understands that the interest shown in Calafiori is said to be significant, and the Italy international has emerged as their priority target at this stage of the transfer window. It's understood that Arteta has been convinced that the 22-year-old has the right profile to add to the squad.

Calafiori made 33 appearances for Bologna last season as they qualified for the Champions League. He impressed for the Serie A side and took that form into Euro 2024, where he was excellent for Italy during the group phase. Luciano Spalletti missed him when he was suspended for the Round of 16 defeat against Switzerland.

If Calafiori does move to the Emirates, then he is set for a battle to force himself into the starting XI. The Gunners were strong defensively last season, conceding just 29 goals in 38 Premier League matches. No team kept more clean sheets than Arsenal (18) in the top-flight, with Everton (13) the next highest.

They had a settled back four with David Raya behind him for most of the season, though the left-back did often switch and change. Jurrien Timber had started the opening game against Nottingham Forest in that position, but he tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament in that match, which ruled him out for the campaign.

Takehiro Tomiyasu took the reins for the second game, a trip to Crystal Palace, but was sent off in that game for two bookable offences. That then saw Oleksandr Zinchenko come in for the third match, and he kept his place for the majority of the first-half of the season, as the Gunners began well.

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However, as the season wore on, Arteta tended to switch between Zinchenko, Tomiyasu and Kiwior for the left-back role, as no one could cement their mark on the position. Going into pre-season, that is the only real defensive area that can be questioned, with Gabriel, William Saliba and Ben White shoo-ins.

Although depth is likely to be important once again as Arsenal challenges on four fronts, including the Champions League and Premier League, Calafiori will want to be guaranteed some sort of regular game time. And the only position that looks likely for him to slot into right now is the left-back role.

Calafiori is a left-footed defender who can either play at centre-back or on the left side of a back four. He has the capability to play in a three-at-the-back system, too. This would give Arteta plenty of different choices, with Calafiori versatile and able to play in a number of roles if required.

A back-four of Calafiori, Gabriel, Saliba and White has the potential to be game-changing for the Gunners if Arteta decides to go down that route. That would be the 'dream' scenario right now, with three of Kiwior, Zinchenko, Timber and Tomiyasu providing adequate back-up and competition and one sold. In this case, Kiwior has attracted interest from the likes of Juventus this summer and would fetch a nice sum of cash.