Arsenal deal back on as Barcelona ‘weigh up options’ for Ilias Akhomach

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Leeds may have opened the door for Arsenal to land Barcelona starlet Ilias Akhomach on a free transfer this summer after his proposed move to the Premier League fell through. Sam Allardyce’s side had been expected to land the Spain under-19 international but the exits of both Javi Gracia and director of football Victor Orta have thrown the deal into significant doubt as Allardyce is looking at other options if he remains at Elland Road.

Akhomach took centre stage when Xavi was appointed Barcelona’s head coach in 2021, having made his debut in the new boss’ first game in charge. He made three appearances for the team during that season, but has since failed to feature for the Catalan giants despite the winger’s clear talent.

He turned down offers to extend his contract at Barcelona, as he wanted to play first-team football elsewhere and looked set to battle for that role at Leeds. However, Spanish outlet Sport are now claiming that the winger’s future is now up in the air, with an offer from Arsenal on the table, as well as Sevilla, where ex-Leeds chief Orta is reportedly in talks to re-join.

Though a departure may not be the only option for Akhomach despite offers from the Gunners, Sevilla and AC Milan as his performances for the youth teams at Barcelona have forced the club to be tempted to persuade him to sign a new deal. However, a new contract is considered difficult with the two parties said to be at an impasse, leaving the door open for Arsenal.

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Barcelona icon Patrick Kluivert previously dubbed Akhomach the “next [Lionel] Messi” and although he has yet to live up to the billing, as a free signing he could prove to be a shrewd investment from Edu and Mikel Arteta.

Barcelona clearly believe the right-winger has potential and he could allow Bukayo Saka to be rotated in the future – as Ian Wright has warned the Gunners that the England star will need to be rested after a gruelling season.

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“Maybe Saka should get a little bit of a rest,” said Wright earlier this month. “I think a little rest. Maybe my mouth is going to quickly for my brain, in this situation we can’t afford to lose any more games. We need everybody out there, but I just worry, I worry for him.”

Whether Akhomach would be able to make an immediate impact at the Emirates remains to be seen, but Arteta has a proven track record of improving young forwards.

If he can repeat his success with the young Spaniard then a free transfer for the teenager would prove to be another smart acquisition.

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