Riccardo Calafiori to Arsenal transfer would be 'a disaster' for Serie A, warns former Bologna chief

Former Bologna chief Walter Sabatini has branded Riccardo Calafiori’s potential move to Arsenal as “a disaster” for Serie A.

Arsenal have identified the Italy centre-back as a key summer transfer target as they seek a left-footed defender to significantly bolster their squad for another Premier League title charge next season.

Calafiori joined Bologna from Swiss side FC Basel last summer, being converted from a left-back to a centre-back by new Juventus manager Thiago Motta.

He played 30 games for Bologna in Serie A as they qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 1965 after finishing fifth.

Future Gunner? Arsenal are interested in a summer deal for Bologna defender Riccardo Calafiori (REUTERS)
Future Gunner? Arsenal are interested in a summer deal for Bologna defender Riccardo Calafiori (REUTERS)

The 22-year-old’s good form has been rewarded with a call-up to the Italian national team. He made his senior debut in June, and started all three of Italy’s group stage games at Euro 2024, before missing their last-16 exit to Switzerland through suspension.

Calafiori is one of Serie A and Italy’s brightest talents, and Sabatini is concerned about the long-term implications for the league if young players of his calibre depart so quickly.

"It’s a disaster when strong, young players like him leave our league," Sabatini told Radio Sportiva. "€45million as a valuation is a huge sum but the defenders are paid even more.

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“I think it’s the minimum for someone like him: left-footed, physically imposing, authoritative and with personality in the game.

“Let’s remember what he did in the 96th minute against Croatia: he came out with the ball at his feet, ran 40 metres, took on the defence and passed the ball.

“These are plays you only do if you have quality and courage, and the courage to take risks and to execute the action is something only great players can do.”