Arsenal ‘interested’ in Ismael Doukoure as Edu eyes next Saliba

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Arsenal transfer chief Edu is reportedly interested in Strasbourg wonderkid Ismael Doukoure. The teenager, who has already made an impact at Ligue 1 level, could replicate William Saliba’s success at the Emirates, having risen through the ranks in his native France.

Saliba had to bide his time after Arsenal forked out to sign him from Saint-Etienne in 2019. Three successive loan spells back to France followed, and it was touch and go whether the centre-back would even return to the Emirates last summer. 

He proved to be a smash hit during a temporary stint at Marseille and there were murmurs that a permanent move could be on the cards, but Gunners boss Mikel Arteta insisted on bringing him back to north London and neither party has looked back since. 

Another Saliba would therefore go down a storm among the Arsenal fanbase, and 90min claim that the club are ‘seriously interested’ in doing exactly that as they continue to keep tabs on Doukoure.

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The 19-year-old has established himself as one of the finest young defenders in France, with scouts from a range of Premier League sides attending an Under-20s youth tournament between France, Netherlands, England and the United states during the international break. 

Newcastle United, Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla and Atalanta are also thought to be tracking Doukoure, who caught the eye by largely keeping Kylian Mbappe quiet during a league meeting in December.

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The teenager’s versatility is likely to appeal to Arteta, having proven capable of playing at centre-back, right-back or in a defensive midfield position this season. Doukoure was born in Lille but made his senior breakthrough with Valenciennes before joining Strasbourg in 2022.

The promising young defender is under contract with the French outfit until 2026, meaning the Gunners or any other interested party would be required to cough up for Doukoure’s services.

Strasbourg are currently in the thick of a Ligue 1 relegation battle, sitting three points above the drop zone with 10 matches remaining. Doukoure has featured in 18 games this term, scoring one goal and notching one assist.

Exactly where he would fit in at Arsenal remains to be seen, with Saliba and Gabriel laying claim to the two starting centre-back spots this season. The Gunners also pulled the trigger on another defensive prospect in January, with 23-year-old Jakub Kiwior currently bedding in at the Emirates.

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