Last summer, Arsenal broke the Premier League British transfer record to sign Declan Rice from West Ham in a deal worth £105m. Rice has been a big hit for the Gunners so far, winning the club’s Player of the Month award in August and earning a nomination for the league-wide prize in October too. Unsurprisingly, he’s made the XI for every single one of his side’s 20 top-flight matches so far, completing the full 90 minutes in 17 of those.
Despite that, there are signs that Mikel Arteta wants to use him a little differently. According to Football London, Arsenal “are exploring a possible deal” for Amadou Onana at Everton, who could form a new partnership with Rice that allows the Englishman to push “further up the pitch”. Arteta may now be a step closer to realising that vision after the latest update on Onana.
Onana keen on Arsenal switch amid Man Utd interest
Speaking to GiveMeSport, journalist Ben Jacobs says that “Onana is open to Arsenal in particular” amid concurrent links with Manchester United. It looks like a potential move for the summer, with both sides “unable to proceed in January” given a lack of available funds.
Even as they face a fresh round of Premier League charges, Everton will refuse to accept a “cut-price deal” and instead expect “£50m or more” for a player who cost them £33m when he joined from Lille in the summer of 2022.
“Octopus” Onana has already shown Arteta and Arsenal what he can do
Onana has played 57 games for Everton since his arrival from Ligue 1, including 22 this season. When fit, he’s one of the first names on the team sheet for manager Sean Dyche, with a starting rate of over 94 per cent (16/17).
Everton team-mate Arnaut Danjuma has likened him to an “octopus” given the amount of ground he’s able to cover and the difficulty of getting past him. Indeed, in his first season of Premier League football, he ranked inside the competition’s top 10 for the percentage of dribblers tackled (71.4%), illustrating Danjuma’s point. He’s also been hailed as “tremendous” in the media, as can be seen below.
The Belgian has already shown Arteta just how good he can be up close, having starred in a 1-0 win over the Gunners at Goodison Park in February 2023 – a shock result that hurt Arsenal’s chances of winning the title. Onana finished joint-top of the match leaderboards that day for tackles and interceptions and also won eight of the 12 ground duels he contested, the third-highest volume. It wasn’t all about the dirty work either as he created two opportunities, including one big chance.
Predictably in light of those numbers, Onana was named the official player of the match on Merseyside, and you get the sense that the game left a particular imprint on the Arsenal manager, who now seems determined to lure him to the Emirates. Everton know that they have a coveted asset on their hands, though, and it looks like they won’t be handing him to their former player on a silver platter.