Arsenal expressed a strong appreciation for Justin Kluivert in negotiations with AS Roma for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, according to reports in Italy.

AS Roma's Justin Kluivert looks on during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg football match between KAA Gent and AS Roma, on February 27, 2020 at the KAA Gent Stadium, in Gand, Belgium. (Photo by kenzo tribouillard / AFP) (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)
AS Roma’s Justin Kluivert looks on during a UEFA Europa League match on February 27, 2020. (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images)

Calciomercato report that Arsenal made clear their admiration of Justin Kluivert in talks with Roma over Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Serie A club want to sign Mkhitaryan after the loanee convinced everyone he was right for the team, including coach Paulo Fonseca.

Mkhitaryan’s preference is also to stay in Rome, as we know from his comments this week. Director Gianluca Petrachi is reportedly working with the player’s agent Mino Raiola to figure out the best strategy to make a move happen.

Corriere dello Sport also wrote about the potential of a Mkhitaryan-Kluivert swap deal, though in slightly more vague terms. They just suggested it is as a hypothetical possibility, whereas Calciomercato seem to be claiming Arsenal actively brought it up.

A swap deal does make more sense than a cash transfer right now. Given the current financial situation, Arsenal can’t let an asset leave for nothing. But on the other side, AS Roma also can’t afford to pay a significant fee.

A fair-value swap may represent the only way the Gunners can avoid making a loss. Whether Kluivert is worth Mkhitaryan-plus-cash is up to the two clubs to decide.

The 21-year-old made 27 appearances this season, mostly on the left-wing. He scored seven goals and assisted two in all competitions. The young Dutchman also has a couple of substitute appearances for his country, but he’s still waiting on his first start.