Arsenal confirmed yesterday that they had completed the signing of promising 17-year-old midfielder Krystian Bielik, in a deal thought to be worth around £2.5 million. Significantly, a club statement described for Polish youngster as able to play “in both holding midfield and at centre-back” – suggesting he could go straight into contention for the trouble defensive position.
Focus on Arsenal’s interest in the Villarreal centre-back Gabriel Paulista has turned to the issue of gaining a work permit, while the club hold out for someone to meet the player’s £15m buy-out clause. The Gunners are believed to be tempting the Brazilian 24-year-old with a four-and-a-half year deal and feel confident they could get “exceptional talent” Paulista a permit on appeal.
The club are also thought to have contacted Lyon about the possibility of signing 21-year-old attacking midfielder Nebil Fekir. It’s a position where Arsenal are not exactly short of options – but room in the squad could be cleared up if international interest in Santi Cazorla becomes more concrete. Fekir’s father has previously told Le Parisien that “if he leaves, it’ll be for Arsenal”, and today’s L’Equipe reported that Wenger himself is leading the scouting mission to show there’s genuine interest from the London end.
While a Paulista deal remains far from guaranteed, Arsene Wenger will continue to look for much-needed centre-back cover elsewhere. German media are reporting interest in VfB Stuttgart’s 6’2’’ 18-year-old Timo Baumgartl – who only debuted in the Bundesliga back in November. That’s his only appearance so far, meaning Baumgartl would likely be one for the future at the Emirates.
The Gunners are also thought to have joined Manchester City in the £25m race to sign former Chelsea prodigy Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian international had little joy in the Premier League with the Blues – but has impressed with six goals in Wolfsburg’s successful season so far.
One of European football’s most exciting young talents… is now definitely not going to Arsenal. Real Madrid confirmed the singing of Martin Odegaard on Wednesday evening after reaching an agreement with Stromsgodset Fotball for the 16-year-old attacking midfielder/forward.
The left-footed player was described as Norway’s Messi and attracted interest from Manchester United, Liverpool and Bayern Munich as well as the Emirates in recent weeks, but seems to have been unable to resist the allure of training up under Zinedine Zidane in the Real Madrid B team.
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