Arsenal make £60m bid for Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo; offer rejected by Brighton, who say player is not for sale in January; Arsenal considering whether to improve offer; Arsenal remain interested in signing Declan Rice in the summer – whether or not they sign Caicedo
Moises Caicedo playing against Arsenal for Brighton earlier this season
Arsenal have had a £60m bid for Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo rejected.
The south-coast club insist Caicedo is not for sale in this January transfer window, but Arsenal remain interested and are deciding whether to go back in with an improved offer.
Ithas also been told Arsenal are still interested in signing Declan Rice in the summer – whether or not they sign Caicedo.
The Gunners’ bid for Caicedo was a guaranteed £60m fee. The biggest transfer fee Brighton have received in their history is the initial £57m plus add-ons from Chelsea for Marc Cucurella last summer.
Chelsea are also interested in the midfielder – who Brighton bought for £4.5m from Independiente del Valle in Ecuador two years ago – but one source has told Sky Sports News a transfer to the Blues in January seems very unlikely as the clubs are “not in the same ball park” regarding valuations.
Speaking on Friday, Roberto De Zerbi, Brighton’s head coach, insisted Caicedo was focused on Brighton and urged the 21-year-old to remain at the Amex Stadium until the summer.
“I think he’s a good guy,” said De Zerbi. “He’s focused only on Brighton. I hope he can stay with us until the end of the season because, in my opinion, it’s the best solution for him and us.”
De Zerbi added: “I can understand the other big teams want our young players – [Alexis] Mac Allister, Caicedo, [Kaoru] Mitoma, [Solly] March – but the decision is for the players and the club.
“I spoke with him [Caicedo] Wednesday and I told him my opinion. I think it’s always difficult to change inside the season because you can find more problems. It is important to stay another four months.”
Pressed on his conversation with Caicedo, De Zerbi revealed: “I spoke with him like a father, not like a coach.
“I understand when one player has the possibility to change teams and go to a very big team, but my work is to give the style of play and also advice for his career and his life.”
Caicedo has two-and-a-half years left on his contract and is unlikely to sign a new one. As a result, Brighton will be doing due diligence on a potential succession plan.
Earlier this week, Caicedo addressed questions about his future by saying he’s “focused only” on the south-coast club.
Speaking after Brighton’s 2-2 draw at Leicester on Saturday, Caicedo told The Argus: “I am focused now on Brighton. I am here, I’m playing every day.
“What happens outside doesn’t trouble me, nor does it take the focus away because I’m focused only on here.”
The radar graphic below compares Caicedo with all central midfielders in Europe’s top leagues this season and reveals his primary strengths include general distribution, creating chances and winning duels.
Caicedo also provides box-to-box qualities from a typical No 6 role, patrolling the left-of-centre in defensive and opposition halves in almost equal measure.
He has attempted only two shots from inside the box in the Premier League this term and is far more inclined to strike from outside the area – hitting the target three times from 10 long-range attempts.
In terms of creating chances, Caicedo frequently penetrates opposition lines with threaded passes in central areas but has also found team-mates from wide areas.
The graphic below highlights how Caicedo’s passes are primarily made down the central and left-hand thirds and underlines his box-to-box influence, while the passing direction radar reveals an impressive accuracy and progressive vision – with barely any passes angled back towards his own goal.
He is also cool under pressure, with only two team-mates recording a better ball-retention rate when being hunted down by opposition players, and is also the key component in Brighton’s transition phases, according to Second Spectrum data.
At just 21, Caicedo also offers a long-term solution and investment and would drop the Gunners’ league-low average age even lower. But he has experience, too – collecting 28 senior caps for his nation and impressing at the World Cup in Qatar.
Some may baulk at the proposed fee, but Caicedo provides serious midfield mettle and scope for development, while his remaining deal at the Amex, a soaring transfer market and growing competition for transfer targets nudges prices ever higher.
One of the most important factors behind Arsenal’s success this season is that they have been able to keep Thomas Partey fit. The Ghanaian was sorely missed during his periods on the sidelines last term and Arsenal’s record with and without him proves it.
In fact, factor in the current campaign as well and Arsenal’s win rate stands at 74 per cent in the Premier League games he has started compared to just 50 per cent in the ones he has missed.
The gulf in quality between him and his deputies, Mohamed Elneny and Albert Sambi Lokonga, is simply too large and the Egyptian’s injury exposes Arsenal’s lack of depth even more glaringly.
Waiting until the summer, when the club hope to recruit Declan Rice from West Ham, is now even riskier than it was and that means action is required before the end of the January window.
Arsenal’s schedule has been relatively kind since Christmas, but it ramps up with a run of four Premier League games in 14 days at the start of February, and that’s followed by the resumption of their Europa League campaign in March.
Partey’s load will need to be managed in order to minimise the risk of injury and that will only be possible if Mikel Arteta is granted his wish for a viable alternative in the 29-year-old’s position.
Arsenal’s recruitment in recent years has centred on the long-term but right now, top of the Premier League and with the added burden of European commitments to come, a short-term solution is needed.
CCook: “Caicedo would round off a very good January window for AFC. With all basis covered, this will give AFC every chance of winning the PL this season.”
Emmett Josiah Mulbah: “Arsenal should send Albert Sambi Lokonga on loan with the option to buy +60m for Moises Caicedo. I think Arsenal need him to challenge for the title.”
Bilbo: “Let’s up the offer and test Brighton’s resolve. Go all out to get him and don’t stop until we do. He’d be a great addition to an Arsenal squad.”
mikey0483: “Whilst there in no doubting Caicedo’s ability, I feel Arsenal should look for a short term loan deal deal as cover in central midfield and go all out for Declan Rice in a summer move.”
Dan: “Don’t see why the signing of Caicedo would affect the signing of Rice. should we pursue him in the summer. Both players are fantastic and can play in a variety of positions. I think both players could and should be signed.”
Bren: “The big question is, will he be a starter or back up to Partey/Xhaka? As of right now, I don’t see him coming in and taking their places. £60m+ is a lot for a bench player, also. I’d look at a cheaper alternative for six months then go in for Rice at the end of the season.”
Joe: “As a Brighton fan, I hope we keep Caicedo until the summer at least! Would rather lose him to a team like Real Madrid rather than a team in England.”
BHAFOREVER: “As a Brighton fan, I really hope we keep hold of him until the summer at the very least… The dream for all Brighton fans is to see us reach Europe for the first time ever, and we definitely need Caicedo to achieve it.”