Arsenal are reportedly interested in signing Wolfsburg right-back Ridle Baku as they look to bring in a more attack-minded alternative to Ben White. While White has been a cornerstone of the club’s title charge, the Gunners are in the market for a more orthodox, adventurous full-back to provide a different type of outlet. Arteta only has Takehiro Tomiyasu available as cover and competition for White, but the Japan international is also more of a centre-back than a full-back.
According to Sky Sport Germany, Arsenal have begun looking at potential right-backs they can bring in this summer and Baku has caught their eye. The 25-year-old started his career as a winger but has moved to right-back in recent seasons, providing a huge amount of attacking threat from deep. Baku has scored five goals and laid on one assist this season in 26 Bundesliga appearances, while he had eight goal involvements last season.
The rapid German defender played as a wing-back predominantly last season but Niko Kovac has used a back four this season, with Baku thriving at right-back despite his additional defensive responsibilities. He has earned four caps for the national team, though was not part of recent squads, and is actually the joint-second top scorer in Wolfsburg’s team. In fact, across the entire Bundesliga, only Bayer Leverkusen’s Jeremie Frimpong (eight goals, six assists) has more goals from defence than Baku.
According to Sky Germany, the former Mainz star is ‘very open’ to leaving Wolfsburg this summer and would jump at the opportunity to move to the Premier League. With his contract expiring in 2025, Wolfsburg do not have a particularly strong negotiating position and have set a price tag in the region of €15million (£13m). The German side would be optimistic of getting slightly more than that, however, and are conscious of interest in Baku from other clubs besides Arsenal, with several Spanish teams also exploring a potential deal this summer.
Arsenal actually explored a move for a right-back in the January window and entered into talks with Real Valladolid over teenage sensation Ivan Fresneda, though they came away empty-handed. The Gunners are also said to be interested in signing Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey, but the Seagulls are unlikely to sell the 20-year-old for anything less than £50m.
In other transfer news, Arsenal have reportedly made a decision on the future of Folarin Balogun. The 19-year-old striker has been linked with a move away from the Emirates this summer, but Arteta is said to have decided to keep him at the club and give him more first-team opportunities next season.
Meanwhile, Ian Wright has defended Granit Xhaka after Gary Neville accused the Arsenal star of ‘breaking’ Anfield rules. Xhaka was criticised for walking off the pitch slowly during Arsenal’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool, but Wright argued that the Swiss midfielder was simply trying to calm his teammates down and prevent them from getting frustrated.