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Arsenal remain interested in move to sign Leicester City star

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LEICESTER, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 15: Youri Tielemans of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at The King Power Stadium on October 15, 2022 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
Croatia's defender #22 Josip Juranovic (L) and Belgium's midfielder #08 Youri Tielemans run for the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group F football match between Croatia and Belgium at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on December 1, 2022. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Croatia defender Josip Juranovic (L) and Belgium midfielder Youri Tielemans run for the ball during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group F football match between Croatia and Belgium at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on December 1, 2022. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Rob Tanner, Leicester City correspondent for The Athletic, reports that Youri Tielemans is the most likely Leicester City player to be in demand in January.

Tanner writes that Arsenal remain interested in Tielemans, though they were put off by Leicester’s asking price in the summer window.

With the midfielder’s contract expiring in 2023, Leicester would have to dramatically reduce their valuation to have any chance of recouping some cash.

Belgian journalist Sacha Tavolieri reported last week that “discussions are underway” for Tielemans to join Arsenal in 2023, though The Athletic suggest the Gunners are more likely to pursue a move for a midfielder in the summer.

At that stage, Tielemans would be a good option. With his deal up, Leicester City would no longer get a say in his future, and Arsenal could sign him up for free (or for a signing-on fee, at least).

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: Youri Tielemans of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at The King Power Stadium on October 15, 2022 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
LEICESTER, ENGLAND: Youri Tielemans of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at The King Power Stadium on October 15, 2022. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Arsenal were heavily linked with Tielemans during the summer window, but nothing ever came of it.

It’s hard to say exactly why that was, but perhaps Mikel Arteta’s recent interview with Sky Sports could provide a hint.

Speaking about Granit Xhaka, Arteta explained that he effectively gave the Swiss midfielder an ultimatum. Either he adapts to a new, more advanced role, or the Arsenal manager would need to replace him.

“I spoke to him at the end of the season and said ‘I need to unlock something in your brain’,” Arteta recalled.

“‘Because you are so comfortable and confident playing in this (defensive) area that you have forgot that actually where is going to win us the games is here (the final third). And the team now demands somebody here.’

“‘So unless you unlock that, I’m going to have to do something about it.’

“And he took it straight away, he’s a very intelligent player. And he came into pre-season fitter than ever, slimmer than ever, and he knew if we wanted to take the team to a different level we have to change his role.”

Perhaps Xhaka’s positive response to Arteta’s demands pushed Tielemans down the club’s list of transfer priorities, particularly with Leicester asking for so much money for a player in the final year of his deal.

This summer, on a free transfer, maybe it will be a different story.

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