Whether it’s ‘the next Ronaldo’, ‘the African Neymar’, ‘Sol Campbell reincarnated’ or ‘a Lionel Messi/Luka Modric hybrid’, there’s nothing football fans enjoy more than rumours of the next big thing joining their club.
Indeed, the Premier League and yonder has become more obsessed with young players than ever before, and thus, so has the rumour mill that eternally surrounds it.
With that in mind, here’s a list of FIVE hotly-tipped youngsters, ‘world prodigies’ if you will, who the tabloids claim have muscled their way on to Arsenal’s transfer radar.
Could we see some of them move to the Emirates in the new year?
Young midfielder Adrien Rabiot has made quite an impression at Paris Saint-Germain, making 34 appearances across all competitions last season, netting thrice, as the French big-spenders marched their way to a second consecutive Ligue 1 title.
The 19 year-old, who once spent an ill-fated season at Manchester City’s academy, is an industrious yet cultured midfielder, combining the physicality of his wiry 6 foot 2 frame with a consistent and varied passing game. Here’s his vitals from the last two seasons, based on per-90-min metrics:
Rabiot’s also represented Les Tricolores 35 times across the junior levels, further underlining his pedigree and highlighting how highly-rated he is within the France set-up.
The one-time Toulouse loanee refused to extend his contract during the summer, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season, which has unsurprisingly caught the attention of a number of top European sides, including Arsenal:
— FootballFanCast.com (@FootballFanCast) September 26, 2014
Here’s another look at the French playmaker in action: The Gunners’ midfield could certainly do with some added physical menace of Rabiot’s variety, but it appears the youngster is favouring a move to Roma, having almost joined the Serie A side during the summer:
The rumoured fee is an incredibly reasonable €5million.
Lacking in genuine quality and depth up top, the Gunners have been linked with La Liga trailblazer Paco Alcacer:
The Express are reporting that Arsenal are planning to sign Paco Alcacer in January – http://t.co/kgz21E8ucj
— Indo Arsenal (@Indo_ArsenalFC) September 13, 2014
Indeed, the21 year-old Valencia starlet has been nothing short of potent over the last twelve months, as shown below: That proficient form has seen the striker muscle his way into Vincente del Bosque’s Spain squad, and he’s now netted three times in four appearances for La Roja since his debut in August. Here’s a look at Alcacer in action: Fernando Torres-esque dare I say, demonstrating no particular defining attribute but an impressively varied all-round game. The Spaniard looks like a real talent and his current contract with Valencia includes a £15million release clause, leading one Spanish publication to recently dub him ‘the bargain of Europe‘. But Alcacer reportedly has no plans to quit the Mestalla in January, whilst Los Che intend to bump up his buy-out fee to an eye-watering £40million:
Another La Liga starlet known to be on the Arsenal radar is Athletic Bilbao stopper Aymeric Laporte. Speculation over the last week even claims the Gunners are prepared to pay his £34million release clause when the transfer window opens:
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) October 9, 2014
Big money indeed, especially considering Laporte is still just 20 years of age and yet to reach 100 league appearances in his senior career. But he’s regarded as one of the most exciting defensive prospects in world football, earning such status with a plethora of strong performances over the last two seasons, as shown below: Indeed, no player has averaged more interceptions per match in La Liga this term: And Laporte is now demonstrating a high level of performance at Champions League level too: Throwing such an audacious sum – equally as much as the Gunners spent on Alexis Sanchez this summer – at such an inexperienced player is hardly the norm in regards to Arsene Wenger’s transfer policy. But the north Londoners are clearly light on bodies at the back and Laporte appears a wise long-term investment, regardless of his transfer fee. Here’s a look at the France U21 in action:
It seems ill-fitting to describe one player as the future of German football, when Die Mannschaft keep churning out generation after generation of incredible talents. But if there’s one German youngster truly standing out against the grain, it’s unquestionably Schalke prodigy Julian Draxler. A creative forward with exceptional dribbling skills, a lethal eye for goal and an unusual 6 foot 2 frame, the 21 year-old is reminiscent of a young Zinedine Zidane. Here’s a look at his top five strikes in the Bundesliga: This incredible assist to Raul in a pre-season friendly also drew a lot of attention:
Draxler’s output of just two goals and six assists in the Bundesliga last season was rather slim compared to the year before, where he found the net 13 times across all competitions. But still impressing, he averaged 4.1 successful dribbles per match last term- the fourth best return in the entire division:
Arsenal’s interest in the 15-cap Germany international is no secret – they allegedly launched a bid for him in January 2014, which failed to meet Schalke’s asking price, and have been linked once again this week, with rumours that Draxler could come in for the misfiring Mesut Ozil:
Rumours: Arsenal to make £37million move for Draxler: http://t.co/G9VniqbHvX
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) October 11, 2014
Of course, there’s just the issue of his £37million release clause and the fact most top clubs in Europe will also be baying for his signature.
Keita Balde Diao may only have made 23 league appearances thus far for current club Lazio, but he’s already emerged as a prime transfer target for the Europe’s elite sides, particularly Liverpool:
The powerful winger claimed five goals and five assists in Serie A last term, demonstrating a real dynamism and explosiveness from wide positions, as shown in the below video:
Originally a product of Barcelona’s famous La Masia youth system, Keita has attracted interest from Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus before and only left the Nou Camp after a bizarre prank involving ice cubes.
He’s currently disappointed with his amount of playing time at Stadio Olimpico, which has apparently caught Arsenal’s attention:
— Johannes Jun (@JohannesJunian1) October 15, 2014
If Lazio are to sell in January however, they’ll expect a huge return on their original £300k investment.