Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta proved right after £111m Moises Caicedo tussle

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Arsenal’s decision to pull the plug on their pursuit of Brighton’s Moises Caicedo this summer already appears to be the correct move. Instead of reigniting their interest at the end of last season, the Gunners turned their attention to splashing the cash on Declan Rice, who has already seamlessly slotted into Mikel Arteta’s midfield.

Caicedo was Arsenal’s top target in January, with the Ecuador international viewed as the ideal acquisition to help the club in their title charge. However, they saw several bids rejected for the midfielder, despite Caicedo’s public plea to try and force through his exit.

Brighton held firm and insisted that he was not for sale mid-season, and the Seagulls have proven that they are tough negotiators once again this summer. Roberto De Zerbi’s side have made it clear that they will allow Caicedo to depart before the transfer window slams shut, but only on their own terms and for a fee of at least £100million – which has caused widespread frustration among interested clubs.

Chelsea and Liverpool have both decided to bite the bullet and have been locked in talks to sign the 21-year-old over the past few days, with the situation expected to be resolved soon. But such a late arrival has only highlighted Arteta’s masterstroke in not getting involved in the bidding war.

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Instead, Arsenal had almost a full pre-season with Rice among their ranks, and eventually, they won’t have the British record signing either given Liverpool’s £111m bid on the table for Caicedo. The Gunners saved valuable time in prioritising Rice, a decision made towards the latter stages of last season when the higher powers at the club conducted plenty of groundwork to ensure that the then-West Ham skipper was keen to make the move to the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal then managed to reach an agreement for £105m for their new playmaker, and he already looks at home in Arteta’s system and within the squad generally. Speaking about the impact of his side conducting their business early, Arteta said: “I think it definitely helps (for signings to play pre-season), especially for the player and getting to the environment and getting set.

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“Also for the coaches it is important, for the media, for the commercial for the clubs as well, especially when you go on tour to be certain and have the players you are going to have for the season, so it was something very positive for us.”

It remains to be seen whether Caicedo outperforms Rice this season, or if he is even able to hit the ground running at his new club now that the new league campaign is underway.

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