According to reports today, Arsenal could be set to follow up their move for Gabriel with a move for Empoli’s 20-year-old Italian defender Daniele Rugani.
To track this rumour, it’s well worth jumping back to a quote from Wenger in December 2014, when Wenger was asked about Ipswich’s Tyrone Mings.
“We are following a few young players but we are not close to signing anybody”
It doesn’t take much to then figure out that Bielik was one of those players, Tyrone Mings was also mentioned later in the press conference as someone who Arsenal were tracking.
But who else could be involved in that ‘few young players‘?
Could Daniele Rugani be one of them?
Rugani is a composed, tough tackling centre-half who has made 21 appearances for Empoli this season scoring two goals and playing a major role in Empoli’s 45% clean sheet record at home (a better record than the team’s placed 3rd, 4th and 5th in Serie A).
So it would not be unusual for Arsenal to be tracking a player like this, in fact, I’d be quite concerned if they weren’t.
In terms of defensive prospects from within the club, there aren’t many young players likely to make an impact any time soon.
Issac Hayden had joined the first team then got injured but I’m yet to be convinced that his promotion was down to quality rather than necessity.
Despite the imminent arrival of Paulista and Chambers already at the club, Arsenal have to look at the longer term.
There is little question that Rugani has quality – but he wouldn’t be cheap.
No price is mentioned in the original article from Talksport or in the follow up from anyone else, but Rugani is co-owned by Juventus so the chances are that Arsenal will have to make a fantastic offer to Empoli and Juventus before Rugani would be going anywhere.
Every club is looking for young players with potential and if Juventus see that they have a player coming through that they have part ownership in that can hold his own in Serie A, then they would no doubt be loathed to let him go.
There has also been no mention of a minimum-fee release clause.
I have no doubt that Arsenal will have kept tabs on Rugani, but unless something changes, it’s unlikely that Empoli and Juventus will let him go.
Put bluntly, if he is good enough for Arsenal then he will be good enough for Juventus.
Yes, money talks, but if Arsenal move for any Juventus player this year I think it’s likely to be a record-breaking fee for a certain ex-Manchester United midfielder.
Even then, I’m not sure if they will get him.
I’d be very surprised, though, if Mings didn’t move to Arsenal in the summer.