Nothing excites the average Premier League fan more than reports linking their club to a prodigious transfer target, heralded as ‘the next Lionel Messi’, ‘the next Cristiano Ronaldo’ or in Anthony Martial’s case ‘the next Thierry Henry’.
Indeed, such comparisons are often inaccurate and premature but they do inspire the imagination – compelling fans to consider what their team might look like a few years down the line with one of world football’s brightest young talents at its core.
With that in mind, Football FanCast are running the rule over some of the beautiful game’s most exciting prodigies recently linked to the Premier League’s top clubs.
This article focuses on Arsenal, a club who pride themselves on their ability to make rather than buy superstars and boast a sensational record when it comes to nurturing future world class players. The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Patrick Vieira and the aforementioned Thierry Henry are but a few examples.
So which of these FIVE prodigies, all reportedly on the Gunners’ transfer radar, would you like to see join the Emirates ranks? Let us know by commenting below!
Italian football is renowned for its ability to consistently produce top class defenders and Juventus starlet Daniele Rugani has been heralded as the latest off the conveyor belt.
The 21-year-old officially joined the Old Lady in summer 2013 but continued his development at boyhood club Empoli over for two more seasons, last term featuring in every minute of their league campaign to help the Stadio Carlo Castellani outfit secure a 15th place finish in the top flight.
In the process, he averaged an impressive 1.3 tackles, 0.9 interceptions, 6.9 clearances and 2.8 aerial duels per match, but that hasn’t been enough to convince Massimo Allegri of a regular first team role since returning to Turin during the summer.
His senior action for Juve thus far has been limited to a minute-long substitute stint against Sevilla in the Champions League.
Arsenal reportedly saw a £13million bid for the 6 foot 2 centre-half rejected during the summer and will be expected to revive their interest if Rugani continues to struggle for game-time – but Manchester United are also known admirers.
Amongst the ones to watch in the Bundesliga this season, Leroy Sane’s reputation is growing by the game at FC Schalke.
Indeed, the 19-year-old winger has claimed four goals and two assists in eleven Bundesliga outings this term, whilst his 3 successful dribbles per match is the joint-fourth best average throughout the division.
That form combined with an impressive return of three goals in four outings for Germany’s U21 string since the turn of 2015 has generated plenty of interest in the 6 foot attacker.
Gunners scouts reportedly ran the rule over Sane as he bagged a late equaliser against Sparta Prague last month but Tottenham are also keen on the teenager and Liverpool saw a €15million bid rejected during the summer.
The top end of the Premier League is overflowing with Belgium internationals at the minute, which is perhaps why all of England’s top clubs are keeping one eye on Anderlecht prodigy Youri Tielemans ahead of summer 2016.
The midfielder is only 18 years of age but has already claimed back-to-back Young Player of the Year awards in the Belgian top flight and amassed a potent 14 goals in 23 outings for Belgium across the youth levels – ranging from U15 to U21.
Having started the current campaign in similarly stong form, netting four times in 17 appearances, the common theory is that Tielemans will leave Constant Verdan Stock stadium for a major club at the end of the season – most likely after picking up the Jupiler League’s Player of the Year award.
Rumour has it Chelsea and Manchester United have already held negotiations with the teenager’s representatives over a move next summer but Arsenal have been linked with Tielemans for some time and will be expected to rival any offer from their Premier League competitors.
Arsene Wenger has a knack for plucking frustrated starlets from Barcelona’s academy and the latest reportedly on his radar is midfielder Sergi Samper.
The 20-year-old is highly rated at the Nou Camp and made his senior debut for the Catalans at the start of last season but has failed to become a recurring fixture in Luis Enrique’s first team plans.
Even amid injuries to the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta this season, the Spain U21 has received just one start at senior level – a Copa del Rey outing against third-tier side Villanovense.
Famed for his Pirlo-esque playmaking qualities, Samper seems like a natural suitor to the Gunners’ technically demanding style of plaY.
Furthermore, his contract includes an £8.5million release clause. But since rumours of an Emirates switch first spouted last month, Manchester United have also emerged in the race for the Spaniard’s signature.
Breel Embolo may only be 18 years of age but he’s already helped fire FC Basel to a Super League title, netting ten times in 26 appearances last season, and represented the Swiss national team on seven occasions.
The 6 foot 1 teenager’s defining trait remains his physicality, blessed with penetrative pace, height and strength, which has seen him compared to the likes of Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o.
He’s not simply a centre-forward however; that lankiness and netting prowess has proved equally useful during occasional bouts in central midfield since his debut in March 2014 and it remains to be seen which position truly suits Embolo best.
Also the sixth-youngest goalscorer in Champions League history, a number of major clubs have been tracking the Cameroon-born prodigy for some time, not least including Manchester United and Bayern Munich.
But Arsenal have also been mooted as potential suitors, in no part due to the limited depth of their current strikeforce, and were linked with Embolo back in September.