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Edu could ‘hijack’ £43m Man United transfer to gift Arsenal ‘great’ Youri Tielemans alternative

Arsenal have been told to focus their efforts on signing James Ward-Prowse this summer, with Mikel Arteta’s interest in Youri Tielemans reportedly cooling off. The Leicester City midfielder has been heavily linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium, but the Gunners’ business elsewhere looks to have played a role in the 25-year-old choosing to reconsider his short-term options.

Following Porto’s confirmation that the north London outfit have have reached an agreement for the transfer of Fabio Vieira on a permanent deal, Arsenal have ‘cooled’ their interest in Tielemans, according to Sky Sports. The report claims that it’s become increasingly likely that the Belgium international now signs a one-year contract extension at the King Power Stadium, with his current deal set to expire in 12 months.

Arteta is said to be a long-term admirer of Tielemans but, with the Gunners having agreed a £34m deal for Porto star Vieira, that interest has waned. As a result, Paul Merson has insisted that his former side set their sights on Southampton midfielder Ward-Prowse.

In his latest column for The Daily Star, the Arsenal all-timer wrote: “Arsenal cannot allow West Ham to buy James Ward-Prowse. I think he is a great signing for whoever gets him. I think he is one of the best passers of the ball in England. Him and Trent Alexander-Arnold see things few other English players do. And they can spray it around the pitch because they have such a good range of passing.”

The 27-year-old, whose contract at St Mary’s expires in 2026, featured 36 times for the Saints in the Premier League this term, directly contributing towards 15 goals from the heart of midfield. And, Merson can’t understand why the England international isn’t being considered by his former side.

Merson added: “I don’t understand why Arsenal are not pulling out all the stops to try and take James Ward-Prowse from Southampton. Arsenal need to buy experience and they would be buying an experienced England international who knows the Premier League and would make a huge difference to them. They are crying out for a player who can spray the ball around from the middle of the pitch.”

Ward-Prowse, who is valued at around £42.9million by CIES Football Observatory, has reportedly courted the interest of Manchester United lately, posing stiff competition should Edu listen to Merson. The midfielder has also been heavily praised by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola in the past should Arteta need persuading any further.

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