Paulo Fonseca reiterated his desire to keep Henrikh Mkhitaryan this week, amid growing rumours of a swap deal for Justin Kluivert.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is coming towards the end of his loan deal with AS Roma, but there’s not much doubt he’d like to stay beyond the end of the season. After 17 appearances, six goals and four assists, the 31-year-old is settling in well in Italy.
With Serie A set to start up again for Roma on Wednesday, head coach Paulo Fonseca also seems keen to keep him, repeating as much in his press conference this week.
“You all know already that we want Smalling and Mkhitaryan to stay,” Fonseca said. “There is a good possibility, but the important thing now is that the players are focused on tomorrow.”
The issue is that Mkhitaryan still has a contract with Arsenal until 2021. The Gunners want fair compensation, and it’s hard to see them getting it in the current global financial situation. Hence the links with a swap for Roma winger Justin Kluivert.
Is a Kluivert swap deal likely?
Usually, rumours of swap deals don’t lead to much. It’s always an easy story for the gossip columns, providing a straight-forward answer for how a club could afford a player outside their budget.
Ironically, Mkhitaryan is an example of one of very few actual swap deals for Arsenal, as he traded places with Alexis Sanchez.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Goal journalist Charles Watts said the latest rumours aren’t entirely nonsense either.
“I don’t think it’s entirely ‘nonsense’ from what I’ve heard,” Watts responded. “Roma absolutely want to keep Mkhitaryan, Mkhitaryan wants to stay at Roma. But Mkhitaryan’s in his thirties, he’s got one year left on his contract.
“For Arsenal to do that sort of deal, and to get Kluivert coming this way…it’s not going to be a case of a straight swap. It would cost an awful lot of money.
“For Arsenal, they’d probably get around £10m for Mkhitaryan. Roma are willing to pay around that mark…but then Arsenal would have to pay another £20m possibly on top of that, maybe even more.
“I think it’s something that Arsenal would probably be interested in and someone that I’ve spoken to who knows the Kluivert camp relatively well seems to think there’s something in it. But I just think it would be a very difficult one for Arsenal to pull off.”
That still doesn’t make it sound particularly likely, but it appears the prospect is at least on the table. It depends whether Arsenal think Kluivert is worth the investment.