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Forget Riccardo Calafiori, Arsenal should be trying to sign ‘exceptional’ Barcelona player

If reports stemming from Italy are to be believed, Arsenal are moving incredibly quickly in their pursuit of Italy star Riccardo Calafiori.

Arsenal are said to have reached an ‘agreement in principle’ to sign Calafiori, who impressed all those who watched him at Euro 2024.

In a poor Italian side, Calafiori shone, and has understandably been linked with a host of top European sides as a result.

Juventus were thought to be very keen on signing the Serie A talent themselves, but unlike Arsenal’s previous pursuit of Dusan Vlahovic, Calafiori seems set to head abroad.

That being said, is Calafiori the right signing for Arsenal this summer?

It’s hard not to get excited when your club acts quickly to sign one of the best performers at the Euros – but could Arsenal do better? 

Luka Modric of Croatia is challenged by Riccardo Calafiori of Italy during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Croatia and Italy at Footba...
Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images for FIGC

Calafiori must be intended to be used as a left-back at Arsenal, a position he appears very capable in, even if he is predominantly a centre-back.

And on the face of it a deal makes sense – Arsenal need to be more defensively resolute on the left, they need to find their left-footed Ben White.

Arsenal shouldn’t pay the cost of Riccardo Calafiori’s development

But despite his performances at the Euros, 22-year-old Calafiori isn’t quite that profile just yet.

The Italian could develop into the player Arsenal need in one or two seasons time – but can Mikel Arteta wait?

Arsenal are at the point when they should be buying the finished product, not a player to develop.

As an elite club, Arsenal shouldn’t pay the cost of development for a defender because it means you concede goals and could lose titles. 

The club were almost perfect last season and still lost out to Manchester City – explaining the size of the task.

Instead, Arsenal should be aiming to bring a talent like Barcleona’s Alejandro Balde to the Emirates Stadium, who could be available this summer. 

Barcelona could be willing to sell Alejandro Balde this summer

Yes, at 20-years-old Balde also needs to develop in order to become one of the world’s best but he would already improve Arsenal’s starting team.

Rather than Calafiori simply acting as a slight improvement on Kiwior, Balde would give Arteta a whole new dimension – a full-back who can do it all.

Alejandro Balde of FC Barcelona looks on during the LaLiga EA Sports match between Real Betis and FC Barcelona at Estadio Benito Villamarin on Janu...
Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

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Whether it’s overlapping his winger, having the confidence to step inside with the ball or defending in one versus one situations, he can do everything.

And Spanish outlet Sport are now reporting that amid their FFP issues Barcelona would be willing to sell all bar six players this summer – and Balde isn’t on their off-limits list. 

If Edu seriously wants to improve Arteta’s squad next season, Calafiori isn’t the answer right now – even if his football is very easy on the eye.

Arsenal need to be more ambitious, and if it isn’t Balde, then they could even challenge Manchester City to sign Theo Hernandez – another rare talent who can do it all.

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