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'Exceptional' and 'excellent' Arsenal targets compared as £25m deal eyed

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Arsenal are interested in signing Brighton & Hove Albion star Yves Bissouma this summer to improve Mikel Arteta’s options in midfield, but the Gunners are prioritising Youri Tielemans of Leicester City.

That’s according to Fabrizio Romano, who reports Arsenal have monitored Bissouma’s performances with the Seagulls for a number of months. Arteta is keen to strengthen his engine room after missing out on Champions League qualification, and seemingly feels the Mali anchor would be a solid choice.

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But Tielemans tops Arsenal’s shortlist and the club are eager to understand if Leicester are prepared to sell the Belgian. He will enter the final year of his £33k-a-week contract at the King Power Stadium next month, having yet agreed to extend since joining the Foxes from AS Monaco in 2019 for £40m.

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Arsenal are interested in Brighton’s Bissouma, but favour Tielemans of Leicester

Brighton are seeking around €40-45m (£34-38m) to sell Bissouma this summer, despite his contract also expiring in 2023. The 25-year-old’s agent has so far failed to find a potential suitor willing to pay the Amex Stadium natives’ asking price, despite holding recent conversations with several top clubs.

Leicester, likewise, will not let Tielemans depart on the cheap, with The Telegraph citing a £30m tag. Arsenal are prepared to open negotiations with the East Midlands outfit at £25m, after Arteta made numerous background checks on the 25-year-old through the club’s head of UK scouting, James Ellis.

Arteta believes Tielemans has proven with Leicester he has the qualities and versatility to flourish in his midfield at Arsenal. The 50-cap international helped the Foxes to win their first-ever FA Cup last year, before scoring seven and creating five goals over 50 appearances in all competitions this term.

So, with Arsenal interested in signing Bissouma from Brighton but favouring a move for Leicester star Tielemans, how do the pair differentiate and how would their roles be different in Arteta’s midfield?

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Bissouma could give Arsenal greater defensive presence than Tielemans amid Arteta interest

Bissouma could provide Arsenal with a greater defensive presence in midfield than Tielemans should Arteta turn his interest toward Brighton. The Mali international has proven he can protect a defence admirably since entering Graham Potter’s plans on the south coast, to earn some substantial praise.

Gary Lineker once hailed Bissouma on Twitter as ‘exceptional’ for shutting down Everton with a Man of the Match performance. The Seagulls’ £15m signing from Lille in 2018 helped shut the Toffees out for a goalless draw after bossing his duels. He also found the roof of the net with an overhead kick.

But Tielemans has shown he can contribute defensively with Leicester and he blew Brendan Rodgers away this May. The Foxes boss heaped praise on the midfielder’s performance against Norwich City after claiming a 3-0 win, noting via quotes by Leicestershire Live: “I thought he was excellent tonight.

“He makes passes in the team that not many can make. I thought he worked ever so hard and he fights for the team, and that’s the type of person he is. I thought he showed a great commitment to the team, but I can’t remember any time he hasn’t.”

Tielemans’ average of 2.5 tackles per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season, per WhoScored, is additionally only marginally less than Bissouma’s return of 3.2. He also offered an interception per 90 minutes compared to Brighton’s holding midfielder providing 2.1 per 90 over his 26 appearances.

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Tielemans would give Gunners greater attacking threat than Bissouma

Tielemans’ approach in the engine room would give Arteta a greater offensive threat than Bissouma should Arsenal’s interest remain more stringently with the Leicester star. He offered six goals and four assists over 32 Premier League appearances this season to the Seagulls ace with one and two.

Additionally, Tielemans created 37 goalscoring chances in top-flight games with 1.3 every 90 minutes to Bissouma’s eight with 0.3 per 90. He also took more shots with 59 (2 per 90) to the Mali anchor’s 21 (0.9 per 90). Yet Bissouma proved to be the superior ball carrier with 34 successful dribbles to 25.

Bissouma also attempted more dribbles (2.2) per 90 minutes than Tielemans (1.3) did in the Premier League this term. So, Arteta would be favouring a slightly more static and inferior defensive-minded midfielder by prioritising a transfer for the attacking Tielemans over Arsenal’s interest in Bissouma.

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