Director says £18m Arsenal target refusing new contract

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Photo by Mario Hommes/vi/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Premier League Arsenal want Manuel Akanji and the defender ‘doesn’t want to’ extend his contract at Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund, sporting director Sebastian Kehl tells WAZ. 

In many ways, the Switzerland international centre-back has come to epitomise this Dortmund side. 

Talented, yes, but eternally flawed. Capable of flitting from awesome to awful, often within the same game. A player who, at the age of 26, really should have ironed those kinks out of his game, even if he still has time on his side to do just that. 

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SportBILD reported in April that Arsenal have joined Manchester United in the race to sign Akanji, a team-mate of Granit Xhaka in the Swiss national team. 

But, make no mistake, Akanji is far from the finished article. Like Ben White, Rob Holding and Gabriel Magalhaes – Arsenal’s three, first-choice defenders – this is a man with undoubted talent and potential, albeit with serious lapses in concentration that threaten to undermine his development into one of Europe’s top centre-halves. 

Who could forget that performance in the German Super Cup defeat to Bayern Munich eight months ago? One that summed up his entire Dortmund career. A masterclass in positioning and distribution… for a while at least. It was Akanji who gifted Bayern the decisive goal, coughing up possession on the edge of his own penalty area.

Arsenal want Manuel Akanji from Borussia Dortmund

Four years after joining Dortmund from Basel for a cool £18 million, Akanji obviously feels that he would benefit from a change of scenery. Or maybe he’s just worried about his place in Marco Rose’s plans, with both Nico Schlotterbeck and Niklas Sule on their way to Signal Iduna Park. 

Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

“Manuel has a contract until 2023, and he doesn’t want to extend it,” says Kehl, the former Germany international and Dortmund captain. 

“At the moment, there is nothing new (to discuss). We are in close contact with him and his agent and are waiting to see what happens now.” 

According to Sport1, Akanji would relish the opportunity to follow in Jadon Sancho’s footsteps, swapping Dortmund for England. 

And while the 39-cap colossus has not developed quite as impressively as those back home in Switzerland would have hoped, there is still a belief that Akanji can belatedly secure his place amongst the European elite. 

“The last step is still missing,” Italy legend Giorgio Chiellini said of Akanji, a feeling shared by former Switzerland and Liverpool ace Stephane Henchoz.  

“I’m not surprised what Chiellini said. Everyone speaks of (Raphael) Varane and (Presnel) Kimpembe but, against France (in Euro 2021), Akanji was the best,” says Henchoz. 

“He may be the only Swiss player who can play for one of the top ten clubs one day. Liverpool, Bayern, Manchester City or United, Barcelona, Real Madrid. I believe in him. He has all the qualities.” 

Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images

In other news, Report: West Ham, Aston Villa and Newcastle want 22-year-old French defender

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