Arsenal look to have a real talent on their hands as Martin Odegaard begins to thrive in Mikel Arteta’s side at The Emirates.
Odegaard played a part in all three goals in that match, leading Arteta to wax lyrical about the 22-year-old.
Zinedine Zidane is keen for Odegaard to return to his squad while Madrid are in a strong bargaining position to drive up his price tag given he has a £300million release clause.
Here are five alternatives they could turn to this summer.
Obvious? Yes. But affordable? Yes. And there are no question marks over Coutinho’s quality.
The Brazilian may have been linked with all and sundry in recent transfer windows but a move to Arsenal could suit all parties.
Spanish publication Sport claims the 28-year-old could be available for as little as £35million amid Barcelona’s financial issues, which is a bargain if he can find close to his best form.
Wages could prove a stumbling block, particularly is Arsenal are getting him for a cut-price, but it’s certainly a deal worth considering.
Arsenal missed out on the Frenchman last summer but could reignite their interest if signing Odegaard is off the table.
While more of a central midfielder than a No.10 per se, Aouar would be the perfect addition to Arsenal’s midfield and Arteta will be keen to get a deal over the line.
Lyon want in excess of the £45m they were demanding for Aouar’s services previously, which shouldn’t be out of reach for Arsenal, though they’ll have extra competition this time round.
Juventus look set to provide the sternest challenge and have the added incentive of being able to offer Champions League football, while Arsenal, at present, are still facing a battle to qualify for Europe, and failure to do so would rule them out of the race entirely.
The Gunners’ reported interest in Norwich’s playmaker earlier in the season came right out of left field but Buendia is an exciting and viable option for them this summer.
While Norwich look set to rejoin the Premier League party for next season, the Argentine would jump at the chance to play for one of the division’s big clubs.
He was impressive in his last stint in the top flight as one of the leading chance creators and has continued his rich vein of form in the Championship.
This season alone he has the highest amount of assists (12), chances created (95) and has weighed in with 10 goals.
Canaries’ boss Daniel Farke made it clear he would stand in the way of a transfer in January, though no bid was forthcoming, but admitted that might not be the case come the end of the season.
“I think if there is a route for one of my best players, then it’s definitely the summer,” Farke said. “It’s better for them, better for us, in the summer it could be a topic but in January I don’t see any business.”
When one door shuts another can often invariably open and Arsenal could play on their good links with Real Madrid in recent seasons to snap up Isco.
The diminutive Spanish maestro has struggled to hold down a regular first-team role at the Bernabeu this season and will not be content with another season of limited action.
If Odegaard returns to the club Isco’s opportunities are only likely to diminish further, but with few permanent transfers expected this summer Madrid could face a battle to offload him.
A loan move would provide a decent stop-gap option for the 28-year-old, and where better than the team where Odegaard and Dani Ceballos have been able to showcase their talents.
Isco also fits the type of blueprint Arteta likes from his players and would represent a real coup for the club.
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The German midfielder has been in and out of the Borussia Dortmund side this season and appears to be out of favour under boss Edin Terzic.
For a player who was previously such a pivotal part of his side, the 24-year-old may well be looking to seek out pastures new in the summer if his situation doesn’t improve.
Dortmund need to offload some of their stars to ease their finances, but with their main efforts focused on keeping Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho, losing Brandt could be a sacrifice they’d be willing to make.
Brandt would likely be open to a switch to a club of Arsenal’s stature and possesses plenty of experience at the top level to make an instant impact.
Moreover, Arsenal wouldn’t have to break the bank to sign him. With an asking price reportedly set at around £25m he would be a shrewd acquisition.
[email protected] (Darren Wells)