Gunners to use new-found spending power to compete for exciting young midfielder.
Arsenal are ready to go head to head with Manchester United and Chelsea for the signing of exciting young Everton midfielder Ross Barkley this January, CaughtOffside understands.
The 19-year-old has attracted a great deal of attention in the last month or so, after making a highly impressive start to the season for Roberto Martinez’s side, which has seen him earn a call-up to the senior England squad by Roy Hodgson.
Compared by Martinez to a young Michael Ballack, Barkley looks like one of the best prospects in the English game at the moment, and may already be seen as worth around £20m by his club when the Premier League big boys come calling in the next transfer window.
United are keen to add a midfielder to their squad after missing out on so many of their top targets during the summer, and manager David Moyes could make Barkley the second player he poaches from his old club after the £27.5m deadline day signing of Belgian international Marouane Fellaini. He is also thought to still be hopeful of making left-back Leighton Baines the third of his former players to join him at Old Trafford.
Chelsea have also expressed an interest in the player as Jose Mourinho looks to build a young team for the future at Stamford Bridge, and the Blues were also rumoured to have missed out on some big-name players in that position this summer, such as Daniele De Rossi and Sami Khedira.
However, Arsenal are now also ready to splash the cash after their surprise deadline day signing of Mesut Ozil, who arrived from Real Madrid for a club-record £42.4m. This show of ambition in the transfer market has excited many of the club’s fans, but a more defensive-minded midfield player is still required, which may open up a spot for Barkley in the Gunners’ starting lineup.
Although the youngster is equally capable of playing further forward, his all-round game would make him an excellent addition for Arsenal in that part of the pitch, which has been lacking somewhat ever since last summer’s sale of Alex Song to Barcelona.
Mathieu Flamini was brought in on a free transfer this summer, but Wenger would like a more long-term partner for the likes of Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, who are two other rising stars of the British game.
Barkley and Wilshere could potentially form a fine partnership for club and country for many years to come, and Wenger is now willing to part with Everton’s asking price of £20m for this exceptional young talent, as there is now seemingly more in the way of funds available at the Emirates Stadium.
Everton won’t want to lose their rising star, and it will be interesting to see how they deal with such strong interest in the player when January comes.
If Barkley were to choose a move to Arsenal, he would also line up alongside Mikel Arteta, a former team-mate of his at Everton, who swapped Goodison Park for the Emirates back in 2011.