Spending £21M, Arsenal is about to welcome the Italian superstar with a 5-year contract

The Gunners have a potential target in this summer transfer window.

Last season, Arsenal made the Premier League race more interesting by creating a point-to-point battle with Manchester City until the final round. The Gunners believe that with significant personnel additions, they can go even further.

Therefore, the Emirates Stadium team is planning to upgrade the quality of the squad right now.

21 million-arsenal-barrels-will-have-a-perfect-effect-for-riceArsenal are about to have their first new player.

It looks like Mikel Arteta is set to make his first major signing in the coming days as they have all but agreed a deal to sign centre-back Riccardo Calafiori from Bologna.

However, Arsenal will not stop there, they will bring in many other new faces, but at the moment, they want to prioritize the central midfield position. In recent days, the prestigious daily The Athletic revealed that the Gunners are trying to convince Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Merino to move to Emirates.

Riccardo Calafiori: Everything you need to know as Arsenal close in on special defensive talent - Premier Bet Uganda

The Athletic claim that Arteta is a big admirer of the 28-year-old’s all-round talent and in particular his “physicality”.

Merino’s age makes him an unusual signing for the Gunners given their transfer activity in recent windows, but signing the Spain international would also provide a balance between experience and youth, as Arsenal have done with Leandro Trossard and Jorginho.

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No price was mentioned in the story, but reports in Spain last month suggested Merino would cost around £21m, which could prove to be a bargain, especially if the 28-year-old can strike up a great partnership with Rice.

The Spaniard has played in a variety of positions before, but the majority of his appearances – 241 to be exact – have been in central midfield, not as a defensive or attacking midfielder, but in the middle of the pitch, as a number 8.

21 million-arsenal-barrels-will-have-a-perfect-effect-for-riceMerino will be the signature to help upgrade Arsenal’s midfield.

This is an area where the former West Ham United captain made 19 appearances for the Gunners last season, and while Rice insists he enjoys playing further forward, the Arsenal star has also stressed that his preferred position is as a holding midfielder.

So if he can bring Merino to Emirates, Arteta can return Rice to ”where he belongs” and have a real number 8 to join Martin Odegaard in creating the game.

In 45 appearances last season, the 28-year-old scored eight goals and provided five assists, meaning he averaged a goal involvement every 3.4 games – he also showed that ability with the header that knocked Germany out of the EUROs.

Riccardo Calafiori, an Italian centre-back in name, hair and pedigree - The Athletic

This performance level is only slightly worse than Rice’s average last season (1 goal every 3 games). Moreover, Rice is collaborating with stars of a higher level than Merino.

Ultimately, a midfielder with this height can really improve the overall solidity of the team.

According to Squawka, he was the only player in Europe’s top seven leagues last season to win more than 300 duels during the season – 326 to be exact.

Rice was a great fit in midfield last season, moving further forward, but by signing Merino, Arteta can get the most out of the former West Ham man by playing him in his natural position and handing him the No.8 role. At just £ 21m, the move is a no-brainer.