Arsenal have met with Youri Tielemans' representatives, as Mikel Arteta looks to make a move for the Leicester City star.
According to Goal, the Belgian's agents have travelled to the Gunners' London Colney training ground in order to hold talks. Tielemans' current contract is set to expire in 2023, meaning that Leicester will likely have to sell their prized asset in the summer if he doesn't show any sign of committing to a new deal.
The north Londoners are close to bringing in Arthur Melo on a loan until the end of the season, since Ainsley Maitland-Niles has left for Roma on loan, while Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are off on Africa Cup of Nations duty.
But Tielemans would be a longer-term fit for the club, with Arteta's blueprint for how he wants to set up his side in the future becoming particularly evident in recent weeks.
Since arriving at the club, the Spanish manager has often favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation, despite mentioning his desire to move to a 4-3-3. Originally, Mesut Ozil was deployed at no.10 but in recent months, Martin Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe have emerged as potential options in that spot, ahead of a double-pivot midfield.
Recently, however, Arteta's side has drifted between a 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 in and out of possession, with Thomas Partey deepest in the midfield. Martin Odegaard has dropped into a right-sided central midfield berth, with Granit Xhaka tasked with the left.
Xhaka is still a target for Roma though, after a failed transfer in the summer and Tielemans would be a big upgrade on the Swiss deep-lying playmaker. Arsenal would probably have to compete with Liverpool for the Belgian's signature, while there would no doubt be interest from abroad.
Tielemans is valued at £49.50m on Transfermarkt.
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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. He is a keen player of the Football Manager series and creates Twitter accounts for his Fantasy Premier League team every year, before losing interest in his team every September.
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