Arsenal have officially confirmed the signing of 17 year-old defender Krystian Bielik this afternoon, but he’s by no means the only talented teenager on the north London club’s radar.
Indeed, Arsene Wenger has an insatiable appetite for young and talented prospects, harking back to his acquisition of Patrick Vieira way back in 1996 and Theirry Henry in 1999 – two youthful signings that would go on to change the course of Gunners and Premier League history.
There’s plenty of speculation linking Arsenal with teenage prodigies from across the globe once again, so, being the lovely bunch we are at Football Fancast, we’ve listed FOUR of them.
So, without further ado…
According to the Metro, Arsenal are plotting a move for PSG prospect Jean Kevin Augustin, whose Parc de Princes contract is set to expire at the end of the season.
Those of you ITK with all things Parisian might be somewhat surprised that his contract is being allowed to wind down, having made Laurent Blanc’s bench on four occasions already and regularly represented France at U18 level. But it appears Augustin has grown so frustrated with PSG’s prolific spending blocking his path to the first team that he’s now considering offers from abroad.
The 17 year-old striker’s availability has attracted interest from Porto, Juventus, Benfica, Roma and West Ham, according to Mirrror Football, but ESPN moot the Gunners as the front-runners, claiming they’ve already made contact with Augustin’s agent.
Germany’s academy system is perhaps the healthiest in Europe at this moment in time, evident enough through their World Cup triumphs during the summer with a squad that boasted an average age of just 24, including eight players of that age or younger.
And the latest product to emerge from the Mannschaft conveyor belt is Schalke starlet Max Mayer, compared to Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze and Lionel Messi, amongst others, for his dribbling speed and technique, allegedly generated via his love for playing Futsal whilst progressing through the Miners’ academy.
Unlike the majority of the teenager showstoppers on this list, the 19 year-old has already seen plenty of action at senior level – 68 appearances-worth to be precise, amassing a return of ten goals, in addition to picking up his first cap for Germany in a pre-World Cup friendly against Poland last May.
Arsenal were strongly linked to the attacking midfielder’s services during the summer, along with Liverpool and Chelsea, as reported by The Express. Ever-increasing in his importance to Schalke however, this term claiming two goals and one assist in 11 Bundesliga starts, the Gunners would likely have to pay an arm and a leg to prize Meyer away from the Veltins Arena this month.
Another Arsenal-linked teenager with plenty of first team football under his belt is Lazio striker Keita Balde Diao, who boasts a promising return of 15 goals in 48 Serie A appearances for the Stadio Olimpico outfit. This season, he’s netted three goals from three outings in the Coppa Italia.
The Spanish striker began his career at Barcelona’s famous La Masia set-up, but elected to leave the club in 2011 by way of a bizarre ice cube prank that resulted in him being sent out on loan to Cornella, where he racked up an incredible 47 goals for their youth team.
He then joined Lazio for just £300k and has been attracting interest from Arsenal and Liverpool ever since, with the Daily Star reporting a £15million transfer tussle between the Premier League clubs as recently as the start of the January window.
Blessed with pace, brawn, firepower and a uniquely direct style of play, the 19 year-old certainly possesses the natural requisites to be a success in the Premier League. Whether the Gunners will make good on their interest this month however, or allow the Keita transfer saga to continue, remains to be seen.
The 17 year-old forward has only scored twice in 25 appearances for the Brazilian outfit thus far but, as shown in the video above, appears to be blessed with an eclectic mix of pace, power and creativity that would certainly serve him well in England.
Resultantly however, the Brazil U20 has already been slapped with a rather outrageous £20million price-tag, per The Daily Star once again, whilst other reports claim Barcelona already have a first refusal option on the young striker.