Arsenal keeping a close eye on Bologna defender Riccardo Calafiori

Arsenal are keeping close tabs on Riccardo Calafiori after his impressive performances for Italy at the 2024 European Championships in Germany.

Riccardo Calafiori

The Bologna defender, 22, has burst onto the international stage, earning four of his five caps for the national team at 2024 Euro, and regardless of Italy being knocked out of the tournament at the hands of Switzerland in the round of 16, he has done enough to catch the eye of many clubs across Europe, including Arsenal.

It was understood that Riccardo Calafiori was close to joining Juventus earlier in the summer, but Arsenal remain informed on his situation. The Gunners reportedly could hijack Juventus’ move for the Bologna star, having run the rule over him in recent weeks. While the 22-year-old’s preference is to join Juventus and reunite with his ex-Bologna boss Thiago Motta, his current employers expect Premier League clubs to join the race for his signature after a solid 2024 Euro campaign.

Arsenal looking to solidify their backline

Arsenal have got a strong first-choice centre-back pairing of William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes. The duo have grown leaps and bounds over the last two seasons, bringing much-needed stability and solidity to the team’s backline. However, with little quality in terms of back-up centre-backs at the Emirates Stadium, Mikel Arteta needs to beef up that position and Riccardo Calafiori—whose future at Bologna is up in the air—would be an impressive option to consider.

A centre-back by trade, Calafiori can also operate at left-back if required, and that is a position that the North London giants are keen to bolster regardless of having decent options.

Oleksandr Zinchenko’s injury issues and loss of form saw Jakub Kiwior—naturally a centre-back—fill in at left-back last season. And with Kieran Tierney, who spent the last season on loan at Real Sociedad, surplus to requirements and Jurrien Timber being ruled out for the entirety of the 2023/24 campaign with an ACL injury, Mikel Arteta and the club’s recruitment team could take a dip in the market for someone to fill in that role.

Calafiori thrived in central defence under Thiago Motta at Bologna and ideally will look to compete with Saliba and Gabriel for a spot in the first XI. But as Saliba and Gabriel appear nailed-on starters having forged a strong defence partnership, the Italy international will need to initially operate at left-back for Arsenal if a move does materialise.

While Juventus remain favourites for Calafiori’s signature, Arteta’s Gunners are certainly one to watch.

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