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Comments made by Aaron Ramsdale’s father on the Highbury Squad podcast have attracted a lot of attention. Nick Ramsdale made it clear his son has lost his smile since being replaced with David Raya by Mikel Arteta, but I think this is a normal response from the player’s father – it’s not his agent, it’s not something that points towards any negotiations or efforts to leave Arsenal.
He obviously wants to see Aaron happy but right now it’s a difficult moment. Still, my understanding remains the same as earlier this week – Ramsdale wants to fight for his place at Arsenal, at the moment there are no negotiations with any other club – also because the goalkeepers market is very quiet, with big goalkeeper moves often relying on a domino effect which is not as active in the middle of the season.
Elsewhere with Arsenal, we’re seeing some surprise links with a loan move for Ruben Neves at Al Hilal. He’s mainly been linked with Newcastle, who appreciate the player, but there is also historical interest from Mikel Arteta – he has always liked Neves, but there are no negotiations at the moment.
Some of you have also been asking me about other Arsenal transfer rumours we’ve seen – Julian Brandt has been linked again and I’m aware that they had some interest in him two years ago, but I’ve heard nothing since then. Ferdi Kadioglu is another name doing the rounds, but again I’m afraid I’m not aware of anything concrete happening there, even if he’s a very good talent who looks ready for important clubs.
We saw some interesting words from the agent of Nico Williams. The Athletic Bilbao star is one of the most talented wingers around Europe with his pace and his ability to score and assist, and we’ve unsurprisingly seen him linked with some big clubs because I think he’s a really underrated talent with big potential.
So what’s the situation? His agent Felix Tainta has made it clear that his client doesn’t want to leave on a free transfer, but at the moment they are yet to receive a contract proposal from Athletic Bilbao.
Williams himself has also spoken about his situation, and said that if you’re being linked with clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona then it means you’re doing something right, but he wants to continue with his current club. It’s important to mention two things, though, because from what I’m hearing Real Madrid and Barcelona have sent their scouts to follow the player, but as of yet no one has sent a formal proposal – they know his priority is to stay at Athletic, so let’s see what happens there.
Chelsea also had Williams on their list in the summer – their priority target was Cole Palmer, but when he was not yet available and not yet given the green light from Manchester City, Williams was one of the players they secretly considered at the club. Then nothing happened because Chelsea wanted to go for Palmer and they are very happy.
Aston Villa could be another name to watch – Unai Emery would love to have him, but in the summer it was impossible to make it happen. Let’s see if his contract situation means it’s a different story next summer, but it is important to remember that he doesn’t want to betray Athletic by leaving on a free. So it’s up to the club and their proposal now.
Benfica are always producing talents and Joao Neves is another one – born in 2004, the midfielder is doing fantastic for them right now, particularly against Sporting Lisbon in their last game. He’s already a crucial player for them and a top talent, and we’ve seen him linked with top clubs in recent months.
What I can mention today is that Manchester United sent their scouts to watch Neves in the game against Sporting. They want to keep an eye on his progress and development, so this could be one to watch for the future. Many clubs are keeping an eye on him, but I can confirm that Man United are one of them.
What will happen next will depend on several factors like the ownership, the manager, the directors who are likely to change in the next weeks with Sir Jim Ratcliffe incoming … many changes are likely at United, but the scouting department are keeping a close eye on Neves.
Staying with Man United, I’ve had some fans asking me about reports linking them with an interest in a winger and a right-back this January, but that’s not the information I have. As I recently said, I’m told their priority for 2024 is a centre-back, and in my opinion they’re already well covered at right-back with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot.
Walter Mazzarri – We’ve had a big change in Italian football and also one that could have an impact in the Champions League as Napoli have fired Rudi Garcia as manager and brought Walter Mazzarri back to the club. After ten years, and spells with clubs like Inter Milan and Watford, Mazzarri is back at Napoli in a role until the end of the season.
Samuel Iling-Junior – I’m aware there have been some links with Tottenham and Samuel Iling-Junior. My understanding is that there are many English clubs monitoring Samuel, but it’s just about scouting and nothing else so far. It will depend on Juventus’ decision and they’ve not made any internal decision on his future yet.