Football

Liverpool enter race for Arsenal's '£12m' teenage sensation target

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Liverpool are reportedly planning a January bid for Arsenal target Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The Southampton teenager has been lighting up League One with his energetic displays and is now being tracked by a number of the Premier League's top clubs.

According to Goal.com, Arsenal have been monitoring the 17-year-old for some time but will now have to fight off interest from Liverpool in their pursuit of the winger.

Oxlade-Chamberlain's raw pace and technique have seen him compared to England ace Theo Walcott - who left Southampton for Arsenal in 2006 for a deal initially worth around £12 million.

And now - according to a Southampton source - it would take 'Theo Walcott money' for Arsenal or Liverpool to land the England under 18 international.

“A lot of the big clubs are watching Alex but it will take serious money to get him,” the source told Goal.com. “The coaching staff rate him higher than Walcott at the same age and the club have sorted out their financial issues so are not under any great pressure to sell him for a knockdown fee. It will take Walcott money to get him.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain is just the latest youngster off the famed Southampton production line which has churned out the likes of Walcott and Spurs star Gareth Bale.

And another St Mary's source believes there is plenty more to come from Saints' new prodigy.

"It has taken him a long time to come to the fore," the source said to Goal.com. "Twelve months ago he was not quite making the progress everyone was hoping but in the last six months he has made a big impression on the guys at Southampton.

"He is like a cross between Walcott and [Southampton forward] Adam Lallana. He doesn't quite have Theo's electric pace but he has good technical skills and always plays with his head up. Because he has made the physical advancement, his skill is really being noticed."

A deal for Oxlade-Chamberlain would certainly represent a coup for the Gunners and would only add to the famed stable of 'kids' at Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger has long been renowned for his ability to identify and develop teenage prodigies - with the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere testament to the talents of the Arsenal boss and his Academy staff.

The Arsenal boss is understood to bring the cream of young European talent to the Emirates Stadium as he looks to leave a lasting legacy with Arsenal should he eventually leave the Gunners.

Arsenal have also been linked with Ipswich wonderkid Connor Wickham and Israeli sensation Omri Altman as Wenger continues to build a squad for the future.

Similarly, new Liverpool owners NESV have identified the development of young players at their Academy as a priority - tasking director of football strategy Damien Comolli with bringing teenage stars to Anfield.

Comolli is renowned for having an eye for talent in its infancy - something which Liverpool Academy director Frank McParland paid testament to.

"His [Comolli's] philosophy is to bring through young talent and he's since told me that we will be seeing a lot of him here at the Academy," he told the official Liverpool website.

"That can only be good news for us. He has a strong interest in young, elite players and we are already in the process of looking to sign some very talented teenagers.

"He has a great network in Europe and when you combine that with what we already have in place here, it promises to be very exciting times for us."

Liverpool already have exciting youngsters Suso and Dani Pacheco on their books and are thought to be close to adding even more starlets to their ranks.

But, whether Arsenal or Liverpool will win the race for Oxlade-Chamberlain remains to be seen, but it is sure to be a fascinating battle between two of the Premier League's leading lights.

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Topics:
Arsenal
Football
Premier League
Liverpool

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