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Raphinha to Arsenal is an exciting prospect but transfer raises doubts over Bukayo Saka’s role in team

IT MAKES a pleasant change to be discussing Arsenal’s completed transfer business early in the window, with three signings already in the bag and several more being hotly tipped.

With an earlier start to the 22-23 campaign due to the World Cup in the autumn, we fans hope the club can push for more incomings before the opening day – ideally in time to integrate them with the existing squad.

Leeds ace Raphinha is on Arsenal’s wishlist

Bukayo Saka has been the Gunners’ talisman for the last two years

I believe the most urgent deal in the minds of the supporters is for Gabriel Jesus, the club’s main striker target.

Youri Tielemans and Lisandro Martinez are strongly linked, but with William Saliba returning, the Belgian central midfielder is a more pressing signing.

However, the link that has surprised and excited the fanbase most is Raphinha from Leeds.

Arsenal have reportedly submitted one bid for the Brazilian which was rejected by the Yorkshire club.

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For us to be linked with another attacking playmaker, wide or otherwise, having just completed the signing of Fabio Vieira from Porto, and with Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Martinelli in situ, is surprising.

However, we must bear in mind the need for a larger, more competitive squad now that Arsenal are back fighting on four fronts.

While we fans talk about rotation, we equally know that everyone has a favoured first eleven – including the manager.

I mention this because the position in which we are accustomed to seeing Raphinha play is currently occupied by Saka, our Player of the Season for two years in a row.

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The young Englishman played in all 38 Premier League matches last season and the majority in 20-21 – hitting the kind of form that has made him undroppable since switching permanently to the right wing.

Saka was tired by the end of the campaign and I am sure Mikel Arteta would have liked to be able to rest him on occasion, although not trusting Nicolas Pepe made rotation difficult.

Raphinha will not come to North London a few months before a World Cup to play a second fiddle to Saka.

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If that is the case, one wonders what the plan is for the Brazilian if Arsenal do decide to raise their bid.

As a left footer Saka could be switched to the other flank, but our talisman is entirely relaxed and happy cutting in from the right.

As he is also a leftie, perhaps Raphinha could be deployed on the left wing.

ACTUALLY AN UPGRADE?

On the face of it that sounds extremely exciting, given his ability to attack full-backs and beat them, but is it more exciting than Martinelli on the left?

For me, the honest answer is no. I am totally invested in Smith Rowe and Martinelli and we have already added Vieira.

If he impresses in pre-season, even Marquinhos could feature on the flanks.

We have huge competition in the wide attacking areas and that is without even considering Reiss Nelson or Omari Hutchinson.

NO REST FOR THE WICKED

I am very aware that many will feel that Saka should be played less and that, at only 20, the club are asking too much of him.

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But sometimes a player is just too important to rest, even at a tender age as Cesc Fabregas was between 2006 and 2011.

It is all too easy to cite Manchester City’s weekly rotation of Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus, but it is far easier to keep top players content under rotation while
accumulating medals and Arsenal are not in that position.

It is easy to get excited when our team gets linked to top players like Raphinha.

But I am not convinced he improves the team that much in the areas where it most needs upgrading.

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I would rather we first secured the services of a new No9, before then looking at another central midfielder to compete with Granit Xhaka.

If we can secure those two signings and there is still cash available, then perhaps Raphinha could be the icing on the cake.

You can follow Dave Seager on Twitter @goonerdave66

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Many Arsenal fans are deeply invested in Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe’s progress
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