Arsenal's central midfield options have needed freshening up for a while now.
Granit Xhaka is being linked with a move away, both Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira are seemingly headed for exits, and Dani Ceballos has already returned to Real Madrid.
So what better way for the north London giants to begin the transfer window than by opening talks with Wolves over the possibility of signing Ruben Neves this summer?
The Portugal international has received plenty of praise for his performances since the Wanderers were promoted to the Premier League, yet Arsenal fans appear torn on whether or not the midfielder is what the club needs.
Make no mistake, he'd fit Mikel Arteta's plans perfectly.
Whether people want to admit it or not, Xhaka was Arsenal's most consistent performer in the middle of the park during the 2020/21 campaign and in the event they lose him, Arteta will almost certainly be looking for somebody with many of the same attributes.
Whoever partners Thomas Partey moving forwards will be tasked with backfilling defensive positions when the full backs bomb forward and providing a screen in front of the centre backs. The suitable candidate will need to provide the technical security Xhaka does and be confident receiving the ball facing his own goal.
Ideally, he'd be a bit more mobile than the Swiss and being four years his junior, as well as 'Premier League proven', Neves feels like a good fit. Lots has been made of the financial restrictions under which Arsenal need to operate during this transfer window and while they're expected to spend, it's likely any significant deals completed prior to the sales they're hoping to make will need to consist of structured payments.
Not every selling club are going to be willing to accept the above and that will limit who Arsenal will be able to do business with. It should never have got to this point but it has and so expectations with regards to what the Gunners can achieve during this window must be tempered.
The team have been at their best this season when Partey has partnered Xhaka in midfield and signing a player of a similar profile seems logical. Neves is no stranger to producing spectacular moments either, something Xhaka has only managed sparsely since moving to the Emirates Stadium for approximately £40m in 2016.
The Gunners have missed out on Emiliano Buendia, who has left Norwich for Aston Villa, and patience among fans is already wearing thin and the window isn't even officially open yet!
The links to Yves Bissouma have seen many pin their hopes on the Brighton man being the big money midfield signing, but it's clear he is not the type of midfielder the Spanish boss wishes to bring to the club, rightly or wrongly.
It took him a while but Arteta has finally settled on a way of playing and that saw his team improve vastly in the second half of last season. To 'trust the process' means to trust in his recruitment plans while considering all of the obstacles he's currently faced. With that criteria in mind, Neves feels like a good fit.
Source : 90min