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Rugani, Upamecano & Tierney: Why Emery's word rock solid at Arsenal

COMMENT: So the proof is in. When Unai Emery says something, we can take the manager at his word. Those claims last month of "three to four" top drawer signings are now looking nailed on.

For Arsenal, these next 48 hours are going to be hectic - and in the best possible way. Even before Davide Torchia's decision to pack himself an overnight bag and travel to London, the Gunners were emerging as the big winners from this summer's market. Convincing Dani Ceballos to resist a return to Real Betis took much more persuading than has been recognised. As has their negotiating skills in convincing Gerard Lopez, the Lille president, to accept a staggered method of paying the record €80m to land Nicolas Pepe. Both players were highly sought after - and by clubs able to offer them more than Europa League football - but Arsenal still managed to do enough to get the pair through the door.

And by 5pm on Thursday, there should be another to drive through London Colney gates. Or is that two? Amid all the buzz of offers being made for Dayot Upamecano, the RB Leipzig centre-half, and Juventus' young defender Daniele Rugani, it's been lost that Arsenal are still haggling with Celtic about a fee for Kieran Tierney.

And there is confidence at Arsenal's end of an agreement being reached. As with Lille, the structure of how the left-back's fee will be paid is what's holding things up. It may take some pressure from Tierney and his minders to get it done, but there is a belief the move will happen. Celtic's approach to Brentford for Rico Henry only adding to expectations.

But as mentioned, it's at the centre of the back four which will be driving the headlines today and tomorrow. The Gunners have two irons in the fire, with offers made for both Upamecano and Rugani.

The latest from Germany is that RB Leipzig are demanding Arsenal make Upamecano the biggest defensive transfer in the game, bettering the £85m Manchester United paid Leicester City on Monday for Harry Maguire.

On approval from Emery, the Gunners made their move last week. The manager green lighting the bid after leaving a final round of talks with Laurent Koscielny frustrated that he couldn't convince the sacked skipper to stick with them for one last season.

So a first bid was made - €60m - which was immediately thrown out by RBL. The response, however, left the door ajar. Arsenal could have Upamecano - but for €90m. And this was all before Monday's events at Old Trafford.

For the intermediaries around the deal, there were some assurances sent Arsenal's way. RBL's valuation was nothing rock solid. It was a starting point. They could be talked down. Raise that offer by €20m and Upamecano will be yours. Better yet, leave the €60m on the table and include Emile Smith Rowe in the offer and RBL will relent. 'Let us think about it', was the Gunners' reply and with that, they made their move for Rugani.

Raul Sanllehi and Edu, Arsenal's newly formed transfer team, do actually work from 'A' and 'B' lists. It's why Everton Soares, of Gremio, was considered before Lopez opened the door to Pepe's sale. The Gunners would've lost little if matters had been reversed. Going for an alternative target needn't be an uninvited compromise - if those in charge have done their homework.

The Upamecano deal could still happen, those communication lines are wide open. But the presence of Torchia, Rugani's agent, in London today does suggest the young Italian is on the brink of signing.

Torchia was at Arsenal's HQ on Tuesday to thrash out personal terms centred around a €4m-a-year agreement. Rugani wants the move. As does Torchia, though only after testing the English market this past weekend. An offer to United was turned down as they entered the final straight of negotiations for Maguire. And while he gave Wolves the courtesy of a hearing, Torchia's client was reluctant to consider Molineaux as his next destination. Juve are prepared to do business with Wolves, whom have slapped in a €35m cash bid. But Rugani has his sights set higher.

With a contract settled, Torchia and Arsenal still need both Rugani and Juve to accept their terms for the transfer: strictly a loan and with a permanent option included. Torchia remaining in London on Wednesday in an attempt to finalise things. The agent knows Arsenal are asking a lot of Rugani, with no guarantee he will be kept on after the temporary deal concludes. But he has insisted they're the best option on the table.

Which is just how Arsenal have worked this market. A lot of talking. A lot of persuading. And managing to win signatures up against a crowded field. Ceballos and Pepe are proof of that.

And by Thursday afternoon, if it all goes to plan, a left-back and centre-half will also be added to make good on those claims of Emery's just three weeks ago.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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