Arteta in dreamland as Arsenal move into pole position for midfield gem wanted by Man Utd, Liverpool

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

Arsenal are the frontrunners to sign Royal Antwerp wonderkid Arthur Vermeeren in a move which would see Manchester United, Liverpool and Barcelona miss out, according to a report.

Vermeeren is an 18-year-old central midfielder who joined Antwerp’s youth system in July 2018 and rose through the ranks before making his first-team debut in August 2022. In the second half of last season, Vermeeren forced his way into the Antwerp starting eleven and went on to make 20 appearances in the Belgian top flight.

The teenager has started the new campaign in brilliant fashion, having registered one goal and five assists in 15 games so far. He played a full 90 minutes in Barcelona’s 5-0 Champions League group stage thrashing of Antwerp on September 19 and managed two assists as Antwerp narrowly lost 3-2 to Shakhtar Donetsk in their next European outing.

In recent weeks, Vermeeren has become the latest Belgian talent to be linked with a big move to one of Europe’s major leagues. Man Utd were originally named as the Premier League club pushing hardest to bring him to England, only for Liverpool to jump them in the queue on September 30.

On Wednesday, transfer insider Dean Jones exclusively revealed to TEAMtalk that Arsenal have set their sights on Vermeeren. A swoop for him could see Declan Rice pushed into a more advanced midfield role.

There has now been an update on the transfer chase courtesy of Spanish newspaper Sport. They confirm recent suggestions that Barca are also on the hunt for Vermeeren’s services.

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However, Barca will struggle to complete a deal as Arsenal are currently viewed as the frontrunners to snap him up. Sport reveal that Arteta ‘really likes’ Vermeeren and Arsenal are resultantly willing to spend big to win the race for him.

A deal could cost the Gunners between £15-20million, though this will clearly rise if a bidding war begins.

Arsenal to win race for Arthur Vermeeren?

In a major boost for Arsenal, Barca will struggle to pay that much for him due to their recent financial problems. The Blaugrana need to focus on balancing the books and improving their starting lineup, rather than buying players for the future like Vermeeren.

But that will play into Arsenal’s hands. While Vermeeren is still young, Arteta is likely to get the best out of him and this could see the starlet force his way into the Arsenal team earlier than anticipated.

As with any promising young player, Vermeeren has been the subject of several comparisons. He has been labelled the ‘new Iniesta’ and the ‘new De Bruyne’. Arsenal fans will simply be delighted if their team can take Vermeeren to the Emirates, as he could forge his own legacy and become a regular in their midfield for years to come.

Meanwhile, an Arsenal player has revealed his plan for the future, in an obvious message to Arteta.