Arsenal ‘closing in on £13m January deal for Belgium wonderkid as they look to pip Barcelona to signature of defensive midfielder’ being compared to Spain icon Sergio Busquets

  • Arsenal have reportedly taken a step forward to sign a young Belgium midfielder 
  • The Gunners are said to have moved ahead of Barcelona for the Antwerp star  
  • Kai Havertz is a broken man at Arsenal: Listen to debate on It’s All Kicking Off 

Arsenal have reportedly moved ahead of Barcelona in the battle to sign a promising young Belgium starlet in January. 

The Gunners are embarking on another title charge this season after an encouraging start to the season saw them rising to second in the table with 24 points from their first ten games – and boss Mikel Arteta is still looking to the future to maintain the club’s upward trajectory. 

And according to Spanish outlet Sport, the Premier League outfit are now leading the race to sign one of Royal Antwerp’s most highly-rated youngsters in the January transfer window, despite Barcelona previously being tipped to bring him to Spain. 

Arthur Vermeeren, 18, is being mooted as a future star of the Belgium national team and has impressed many with his confident and mature displays in the middle of the park for Antwerp, the club he joined when he was just 13. 

Sport claim Barcelona are still interested in Vermeeren but have not made a decision on signing him. 

Arsenal are said to have moved ahead of Barcelona in the race to sign Belgian starlet Arthur Vermeeren

Mikel Arteta has reportedly stepped up interest in the £13m-rated star

Xavi's side were previously seen as favourites

Mikel Arteta (L) has reportedly stepped up interest in the £13m-rated star ahead of Xavi (R)

They are aware that they could lose out on the player, the report adds, with Arsenal now ‘advancing’ in their bid to sign him – at a price of around £13million.

Vermeeren has been monitored by Barcelona scouts for some time – with his impressive ball deliveries and positional sense admired by the Spanish side – and the player’s characteristics ‘would fit perfectly’ at the club, it claims.

He has been compared to Barca club legend Sergio Busquets, while Antwerp’s director of football Marc Overmars said he had shades of Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

‘I do not have doubts that Vermeeren can play [for] Barca,’ he told FCBN. ‘Like Xavi and Iniesta… Vermeeren [has] the same profile.’ 

Vermeeren is seen as Belgium's next big star and has impressed in the Champions League this season

Vermeeren is seen as Belgium’s next big star and has impressed in the Champions League this season

Arsenal, meanwhile, are ‘taking a step forward’ with their bid for Vermeeren – even though he is ‘seen as a risky option’ for the club.

However, the club are keen to build on their strength in depth in midfield to keep their title hopes going. They splashed out £65m on German star Kai Havertz from Chelsea, but he has failed to impress so far at the Emirates.  

Vermeeren – who was named in CIES Football Observatory’s recent list of top 100 youngsters – has decided he will leave Antwerp either in January or at the end of the current season and is aware there will be offers for him, the report goes on, claiming he ‘wants to take another step in his career’.

He made 34 apperances for Antwerp last season, scoring once and has played nine times overall in this campaign – already playing in three Champions League games and laying on two assists in a 3-2 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk.


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