Premier League: Arsene Wenger on verge of Arsenal’s second summer signing
Arsenal, 9/2 with Coral to win the Premier League next term, are reportedly close to their second summer signing, who is being tipped to be the long-term successor of Mikel Arteta.
While most of the reports recently are linking the Gunners to a forward, Arsene Wenger could pounce on a more pressing opportunity which appears to have presented itself.
There have been plenty of suggestions that the Gunners could sign an established defensive midfielder in this transfer window, though Wenger prefers a deep-lying, ball-playing anchorman who can read the game and snuff out danger before it becomes a major threat.
After rejecting the chance to make bids for Morgan Schneiderlin and Arturo Vidal, who have signed for Manchester United and are close to joining Bayern Munich respectively, Wenger looks set to recruit highly-rated Barcelona youngster Sergi Samper, who has a €12m (£8.5m) release clause in his contract.
The fact that the 20-year-old is only in the Barcelona B team is no reflection on his ability or potential, but more to with him being behind the likes of Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic, Rafinha Alcantara and Sergi Roberto in the midfield pecking order.
Wenger has been keeping an eye on Samper since the player was 15 and is the ideal player for what the Frenchman is looking for. His ball distribution and on-field awareness for such a young age is first class, while play can also be filtered through him.
If indeed, he is a replacement for Arteta who has just signed a new one-year contract with the club then the veteran can help his compatriot settle in at the Emirates. Whether this means that Wenger will bring in a more established midfielder remains to be seen.
Last season, Francis Coquelin made a significant step up in this role and was arguably one of their best players. However, it is unlikely that Wenger would utilise him alongside another inexperienced candidate, which could mean that Arsenal add a more polished player to their ranks as well.
Samper was regarded by Barcelona as a potential successor to Sergio Busquets, however they now have high hopes for 16-year-old Oriol Busquets (no relation) to fulfil that role. Furthermore, Samper is said to be keen on a move to the north London outfit, and if Arsenal trigger his release clause, there is nothing that Barca can do.
He would link up with fellow ex-La Masia graduates Arteta and Hector Bellerin if he joins, who is now regarded as the number one right back after some sensational performances last season. Samper can also take heart from the fact that they are both the same age and Wenger isn’t afraid to play youth if they are good enough.
Arsenal have a habit of snapping up Barcelona academy players, the most famous being Cesc Fabregas, while Bellerin’s best friend, Jon Toral also arrived at the club at the same time. Gunners fans can be confident that if Samper signs, they will have one fantastic player with a huge amount of potential.