Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is already hatching plans for the summer transfer window after a turbulent season.
And one player he has spotted early on is Real Betis midfielder Guido Rodriguez, with reports from Sports world alleges that Arsenal wants to activate its £ 68 million release clause this summer.
It would be a bold move for the Gunners as they already have combative midfielder Thomas Partey in their ranks after signing him for £ 45m from Atletico Madrid last summer.
But here, Sportsmail takes a look at the 26-year-old Argentinian, who certainly caught the eye in LaLiga this season.
Guido Rodriguez has caught Arsenal’s attention after playing in midfield for Real Betis
WHAT IS HIS BACKGROUND?
Born in the town of Saenz Pena on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Rodriguez started his football journey with Argentine giants River Plate as a young man.
But after struggling to find playing time and being on loan to Defensa y Justicia to try to change that, Rodriguez chose new pastures and joined Mexican club Tijuana in 2016 before signing with Club America a year later .
It was a bold move for Rodriguez to leave his native country in search of regular football, but it paid off as he was named Mexican Player of the Year in 2019 when Club America took the title.
His impressive displays at the heart of the midfield quickly caught the attention of Real Betis, who eventually signed him in January 2020 for just £ 2.7m.
It took him very little time to adjust to Spanish football, and he quickly became an ever-present in midfield for Betis, who is sixth in LaLiga after a great campaign.
Rodriguez’s stats for Real Betis in LaLiga this season – Courtsey or sofascore.com
WHAT CAN ARSENAL FANS EXPECT?
Rodriguez has become an influential figure for Betis since signing in 2020, playing 39 times in all competitions – missing just eight games in that period.
After the club narrowly avoided relegation last season, they now see themselves building an unlikely Europa League attack.
And it is Rodriguez’s presence at the base of midfield that helps Betis bring this campaign to fruition, with his aggressive nature making him a nightmare for the opposition to get past.
Rodriguez is a monster at reclaiming the ball for his teammates, averaging 2.5 tackles per game at LaLiga this season – more than Partey at Arsenal.
In addition, the midfielder makes 1.8 interceptions per game, which is currently more than any player in Arteta’s roster, while having a 7.2 ball recovery per game.
Rodriguez likes to recycle possession and push the ball further up the field, which means he doesn’t threaten to attack too often.
And it is his hard-working, combative nature that has earned him recognition from Argentina – he has won 10 caps, most of which have been played in friendly matches so far.
His aggressive nature and determination to win the ball make him a nightmare for opposition
DOES HE HAVE ANY WEAKNESSES?
But Rodriguez’s in-the-face nature means his discipline isn’t the best – he makes 1.8 mistakes per game in LaLiga.
This is more than Granit Xhaka, who has been criticized in the past for his hot-headedness.
Rodriguez has seven yellow cards this term – and with discipline one of Arsenal’s greatest weaknesses in what has been a rollercoaster of a season – Arteta would be looking for him to work on that.
But to his credit, Rodriguez looks smart and has yet to be sent away since moving to Spain.
And as mentioned before, he doesn’t weigh in too many goals, but that wouldn’t be a major concern for the Gunners.
The 26-year-old has only one to his name this season – that was a deviated blow against Cadiz in December.
Rodriguez has to work on his discipline – he has won yellow in LaLiga seven times this season
AND DOES ARSENAL REALLY NEED HIM?
Given that Arsenal have only recently signed Partey, it may seem far-fetched that they also need defensive midfielder Rodriguez.
The pair are quite similar in terms of reclaiming the ball and getting their side on offense, but perhaps this could be in Arsenal’s and Arteta’s favor.
Although Partey has been frustrated with injuries since moving to Arsenal, something he didn’t have to deal with at Atletico Madrid, he is still impressed and offers that dominant presence right in the middle of the park.
Partey’s ability to extinguish danger, pass players with ease and his ability to unlock the opponent with passes over their midfield have revived Arsenal’s attack.
Add to that the presence of Rodriguez, who would be a second imposing figure in the center of the field, and the Gunners could really dominate most of the Premier League’s midfields.
Thomas Partey arrived for £ 45 million last summer, so a deal for Rodriguez may be unlikely
IS ARTETA HIS DREAM SCENARIO?
This dominant presence in central midfield would provide Arteta with the perfect platform to make the most of his attack.
If Rodriguez and Partey can get the job done farther back, it will give Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Co the freedom to move their gear forward.
Add Martin Odegaard to the equation and the pieces are ready for what could lead to something really exciting in the Emirates.
But what Arteta’s dream might be also seems a huge question.
First and foremost, Arsenal faces a huge job keeping Odegaard in North London after his loan expires – with any further deal depending on Zinedine Zidane’s future and how much Real Madrid would be willing to accept for the midfielder.
Second, will Arsenal really stick to Betis’s £ 68 million release clause for Rodriguez – whose contract only expires in the summer of 2024 -?
Unless they really give their best or win the Europa League, it looks like Arsenal will be totally missing out on European football next season, which would significantly affect their income.
Judging from the current situation, a deal for Rodriguez doesn’t seem too likely. But it is certainly one to watch out for.
Adding Rodriguez to the ranks alongside Partey and Martin Odegaard would be very exciting