Over the years, Arsenal and Tottenham have battled it out for the signatures of a number of young talents. This summer is set to be no different as this time Nottingham Forest defender Jamaal Lascelles is set to be the centre of their attentions. The England U19 centre back is highly rated at the City Ground and his performances in the national youth setup have caught the eyes of the North London scouts.
Forest actually rejected a £5 million bid for the player back in January from the Gunners and promptly handed him his first debut, starting in a 2-0 defeat to Burnley. Manager at the time Steve Cotterill decided it would be better for Lascelles to gain some experience out on loan instead of waiting for his chance to seal a regular spot, so the 18-year-old headed to Stevenage for the end of the season. He made nine appearances for the club, featuring in the playoff semi-final defeat to Sheffield United and certainly showed enough clout to suggest he’s worthy of a starting spot at Forest next year.
However, Lascelles’s form in the national setup has sent the big boys running down to the City Ground. He’s made eight appearances for the U19’s as part of a talented squad that contains some players with bright futures. Several Premier League clubs have been sniffing around, including Aston Villa and Everton, but its Arsenal and Tottenham who look set to go head to head over his signing.
It could well be that Lascelles reminds both clubs of a young Sol Campbell, though for Tottenham’s sake, they would hope he has a little more loyalty. Both clubs missed out on the signing of Forest youngster Patrick Bamford when he moved to Chelsea in January for £1.5million, so both are hopeful of tying up a deal sooner rather than later. Although Arsenal have a good record of attracting young players to the Emirates over the years, think Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, Spurs have struggled with bringing young players into the side. Highly rated prospects like Chris Gunter, John Bostock or Giovani Dos Santos all made big money moves to White Hart Lane, only to fail to get anywhere near the first team.
Lascelles may take this into consideration when making his final choice, though it is by no means certain that he will move this summer. Forest have set the asking price above £5million, a big fee to pay for a defender with just one Championship appearance under his belt. Besides, the club are undergoing a revolution of their own. The Al-Hasawi family have completed their takeover of the club and want to appoint an ‘iconic’ manager to the dugout. It is clear that Forest could be going places next season and Lascelles may want to be part of that. He will surely be involved more regularly in the first team if he chooses to stay at the City Ground and Forest will want their young defender to lead the charge towards the Premiership.