Spanish daily Sport are reporting that Arsenal want to follow up the previous signings of Cesc Fabregas and Fran Merida from Barcelona with a third signing in the form of highly rated Israeli international Gai Assulin. Assulin’s contract expires at the end of the season and manager Pep Guardiola has told him, along with a few others, that their contracts will be renewed near the end of the season. In the meantime though he’s free to talk to other European clubs and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is supposedly keen on tempting him away from Barca.
Assulin joined Barca at age 12 and was always believed to possess great potential. He made his international debut at just 16, becoming the youngest Israel international in the process, and has excelled in Barca’s “B” team for the last couple of years, scoring often and proving very creative. He’s been training with the first team this season and has appeared in pre-season friendlies and Copa del Rey clashes but is yet to appear in the league as he’s behind Leo Messi, Pedro and Jeffren in the pecking order at Barca.
Assulin is comparable to Messi in terms of playing style; he’s fantastic with the ball at his feet, able to dribble around many opponents, he’s very fast and possesses a sweet shot with fine accuracy. A criticism that could be levelled at him is that he’s too selfish on the ball but he has passed more often when playing for the first team as he has more faith in the players around him. Assulin is said to have attitude problems and he thinks highly of himself but this could be said of many 18 year old footballers.
Assulin can operate on either wing and could even be played as an attacking midfielder. He’s small and slight which would be a concern in the Premier League but if he could overcome that then he could easily be a star over here. Barca fans rate him extremely highly and believe he will be a star of the future and he’s one of their top talents who they’d hate to lose, particularly on a free transfer.
Assulin has previously made it clear that he wants to stay with Barcelona and his agent Pini Zahavi is attempting to negotiate a deal with Barca earlier than the club would like but Arsenal are watching closely for if a deal cannot be agreed then they would be able to offer the youngster a deal he’d not turn down. Under the guidance of Wenger Assulin could easily lose his petulance and mature into a world-class footballer, much like Fabregas has done.
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