First Arsenal January signing ‘agreed’ as Arteta beats Man Utd, Liverpool, Barcelona to UCL midfielder

Royal Antwerp midfielder Arthur Vermeeren is a target for Arsenal

Arthur Vermeeren is a target for Arsenal

Arsenal are reportedly closing in on the signing of Royal Antwerp midfielder Arthur Vermeeren amid claims a deal will be wrapped up prior to the official opening of the January window.

The Gunners are once again riding high near the top of the Premier League table and hoping for another push at glory over the second half of the season. Last time around, and despite leading the table for much of the season, Arsenal were eventually overhauled by Manchester City, who won themselves a third title in a row and a fourth in five seasons.

In order to ensure his squad do this time last the pace, boss Mikel Arteta knows the importance of a solid January window to enhance his side’s prospects of glory. To that end, the Gunners are already well underway with their planning for the winter window with two big-name additions eyed.

In that regard, and despite denials, Arteta is reportedly seeking a new big-name striker to his pool as he bids to add a more clinical element to his attack. To that end, Brentford’s Ivan Toney remains a firm target, though reports on Thursday also suggest Arsenal are now also looking at a £40m-rated RB Leipzig frontman too.

Arteta, though, also wants to add to his midfield and particularly in light of speculation over the future of Jorginho. The Italy midfielder joined Arsenal last January in a £12m move from Chelsea. However, in only signing a 18-month deal, that arrangement is currently due to expire in the summer and talk is gathering pace that a move away could be on the cards.

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Arsenal close in on signing of Arthur Vermeeren

And while Arsenal do hold a one-year option on Jorginho’s contract, a decent offer may well convince them to cash in on his services.

As a result, it is little wonder to see Arsenal looking at potential replacements. And we exclusively revealed last month that Arteta had taken a strong liking to Royal Antwerp star Vermeeren.

The teenage star has been earning rave reviews in his homeland, having helped Antwerp claim a first domestic league title in an astonishing 66 years.

That earned the club a path into the Champions League, where Vermeeren has continued to impress despite his side losing all three of their matches to date.

Interest in the 18-year-old has come from far and wide with Barcelona, Manchester United and Liverpool among the clubs to have kept a close watch on his progress.

However, reports in Spain claim it is Arsenal who are closing on his signature with Arteta and Co already moving to activate his signing prior to the official opening of the window. They are seemingly convinced that, despite his tender years, the player is ready-made to become a Premier League star.

Arteta wants to sign Vermeeren and push Declan Rice into a more attacking midfield role with it felt the teenage star can protect the defence and grant the club record signing more licence to get forwards.

The box-t0-box midfielder has a great engine on him, and has already clocked up some 53 senior appearances.

Furthermore, it’s reported Arsenal will need to pay just €15m (£13.1m) to secure Vermeeren’s signature – a fee well within the Gunners’ reach and one that could prove a bargain in years to come.

Overmars compares Vermeeren to Xavi and Iniesta

Former Arsenal winger Marc Overmars is the Antwerp director of football and he knows what a special player his club have on their hands, comparing him to not one, but two legendary Barcelona stars.

“I do not have doubts that Vermeeren can play [for] Barca,” Overmars told FCBN in September. “Like Xavi and Iniesta… Vermeeren [has] the same profile.”

Former Tottenham man Toby Alderweireld is also on Antwerp’s books and he also loves what he sees in the teenager.

“He arrived in the team by force of circumstance, but since then he has learned very quickly,” Alderweireld said. “He reads the game very well, his potential is enormous. Have I seen this before? Rarely, I think.”

It’s early days in his career, but Vermeeren certainly looks more than capable given he has not looked out of place, competing in UCL games against the likes of FC Porto and Barcelona. At just 18, he has an extremely high ceiling and Arsenal will believe he can get even better training each day alongside the likes of Rice and captain Martin Odegaard.

And if Arsenal can pull off his signing for just €15m, it will be seen as quite the coup and one they surely will only benefit from in the coming years.

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