Where and how Riccardo Calafiori would fit in at Arsenal

  • Italy star Calafiori linked with move to Arsenal
  • Bologna defender enjoyed sensational Serie A campaign in 2023/24
  • Gunners could pay over £40m for new centre-back
Calafiori could be on his way to Arsenal
Calafiori could be on his way to Arsenal / James Baylis - AMA/GettyImages

Riccardo Calafiori is one of the most exciting names floating around the transfer market this summer, and all roads seem to point him towards Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta's side have long been linked with a new left-sided defender to complete their almost flawless backline. Jurrien Timber was able to return to full fitness before the end of last season after an ACL injury, but the club still search for an upgrade on the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Jakub Kiwior.

In walks Bologna's Calafiori - an exciting, versatile defender that could bring heaps of skill to Arsenal's squad.

The 22-year-old's talent has been rife in Italy, but after a stellar campaign with Bologna in Serie A, Calafiori has gained the attention of sides across Europe. His success continued on the international stage, symbolising a glimmer of hope among Italy's miserable Euro 2024 tournament - the reigning champions were eliminated at the last 16 stage.

Arsenal's interest in the player is concrete and the club have already begun to engage in talks to bring the defender to the Emirates.

For Bologna, Calafiori was indispensable last term. He performed as a centre-back in three-man and four-man backlines, while also being utilised as a left-back when needed. His skill went beyond the defensive line, as Calafiori was also able to drive the midfield and create integral build-up play for his club.

Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel
Calafiori could compete with Arsenal's other left-footed defenders / Michael Regan/GettyImages

In duels, he thrived, taking on one-on-one battles with his opposition to pose a real threat on the pitch. He's known to be hyper-aggressive with his markers, sprinting to the player before slowing down to execute tackles with immense composure.

His aerial presence is also very attractive, and his ability to underlap and overlap may end Arteta's long search for an inverted full-back.

Calafiori is gifted in multiple areas of the pitch, looking comfortable out wide, in the centre of play and also when bursting through the midfield to speed up a game. He would be an obvious upgrade in defence, offering more control than Zinchenko and greater composure than Kiwior.

While the player is not set to necessarily replace Gabriel Magalhaes, he could also be a useful cover option when needed. Arteta remains happy with the elite partnership between William Saliba and the Brazilian and it is clear a new signing would not replace either star.

Arsenal could heavily rely on a player like Calafiori in both defence and attack. The Italian contributed in both areas of the game for Bologna, forming a vital part of their possession-based system. In fact, he ended his 2023/24 campaign with a brace against Juventus, adding to the five assists he had made earlier in the season.

Bologna are reported to remain firm on their asking price of €50m (£43m), but are expected to engage in talks with the Gunners.

A move for Calafiori would be incredibly exciting, and could help Arsenal end their 21-year wait for Premier League silverware.