Arsenal could have Moises Caicedo alternative under their noses – and he won't cost a penny
Arsenal are desperately trying to land Moises Caicedo from Brighton – but what if the alternative was completely free?
Arsenal are looking to sign Moises Caicedo from Brighton & Hove Albion, with the pursuit seemingly doomed by the Seagulls' reluctance to sell.
The Gunners apparently started the bidding at £60 million and despite increasing that offer by £10m – not to mention the Ecuadorian pleading to go via social media – it seems as if Brighton are not for turning. The Sussex outfit don't want to let their star go midseason for any price.
It leaves Arsenal looking for alternatives – but one has already presented itself this weekend
Could Arsenal academy graduate Charlie Patino be the perfect answer to the Moises Caicedo problem?
The idea was simple for Charlie Patino. Go on loan to Blackpool in the Championship and return next season as an option to rotate with the likes of Martin Odegaard, Fabio Vieira and Granit Xhaka in midfield. If Arsenal make the Champions League, opportunities should present themselves with a massive season ahead.
And yet the teenager is answering a very particular question right now. In a performance in the FA Cup (opens in new tab) at the weekend against Southampton, he looked older than his years, popping up with a goal but showing exactly what Arsenal will need in midfield for the next decade.
Charlie Patino goal for Blackpool vs Southamptonpic.twitter.com/B1KD4SlFUUJanuary 28, 2023
While he has most often played as a No.8 for the Tangerines, Patino has a solid base of skills needed for the Thomas Partey role in the Arsenal side. Tall and physical, of course, but superb in the first phase and able to evade pressure with ease. His passing is good and he has the composure not to force play.
He makes late runs into the box – as demonstrated not just against the Saints but when he made his senior Gunners debut in the Carabao Cup against Sunderland (opens in new tab) last season and scored – and his positional awareness is good.
Is Patino ready to be recalled from Blackpool?
It would be a hell of a story… but it would be a huge risk.
Patino has been learning a lot in different midfield roles while in the Championship but he has no experience to the level that Arsenal are wanting right now. Not to mention how disrupting his loan to put him on the bench behind Partey could be detrimental to his development.
Moises Caicedo is top of the list to join Arsenal because he's Premier League-proven and will slot into the Gunners' line-up almost seamlessly. With a title to fight for in the second half of the season, it's no wonder that sportng director Edu Gaspar is seriously considering an extortionate fee for what would essentially be a Partey back-up.
But it's important to recognise: Caicedo wouldn't just be until the end of the season.
Long-term, Arsenal may have a prospect just as good under their noses and so if they do miss out on the Ecuadorian – which looks like the case – fans can perhaps take solace long-term that the No.6 role is in good hands for the future.
Still, Arteta has found unlikelier cornerstones in his team. Who'd have thought that Emile Smith Rowe would sort their creative issues at No.10? That Bukayo Saka wasn't a left-back at all but a right-winger capable of benching their record signing? That twice relegated Aaron Ramsdale was the right goalkeeper, that Granit Xhaka was a box-to-box midfielder or that Eddie Nketiah was a goal machine?
Patino is on the right track to be a top midfielder. Now? Maybe. Later? More likely. And he could save the club £70m that would otherwise be paid to Brighton. Now to just find a player who can fulfil it until May…
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.