Arsenal have leapfrogged London rivals Chelsea in the race to sign Benfica forward Anderson Talisca after making contact with his agent. The Gunners have identified the 20-year-old sensation as a potential replacement for Lukas Podolski, and could make a formal bid for the player in January.
This latest development comes courtesy of the Daily Star, who understand that Inter Milan are keen to take £100,000-a-week Podolski to Italy in the New Year. The Germany international has fallen down the pecking order at the Emirates Stadium this season and recently admitted that, if his situation fails to improve over the coming months, he would consider his options.
Who is Talisca?
Arsenal scouts have been instructed by manager Arsene Wenger to run the rule over Talisca, who currently leads the top scorer charts in the Portuguese top flight with six goals to his name, on three separate occasions. He was most recently watched last Friday, when he featured for Brazil’s Under-21 side against Bolivia.
Valued at £17 million, Talisca is a 6ft 2in forward of superb technical ability, but also blessed with pace and power. The complete package in many ways, it’s no surprise that Arsenal are competing with a host of clubs - including Chelsea - to secure the youngster’s signature.
Do Arsenal have room for Talisca?
Arsenal have enough games in the second half of the season to guarantee Talisca a reasonable number of appearances, but it could take him a significant amount of time to establish himself as the Gunners’ first-choice left-winger.
Wenger has plenty of options to choose from in that position, including the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. The French coach will be left with an even greater selection headache now that Theo Walcott has returned from his nine-month injury lay-off.
The England winger returned to training this week for the first time since damaging knee ligaments against Tottenham in January and will be looking to nail down the right-wing position as quickly as possible.
Other options for Arsenal
Recent reports have claimed that Arsenal are also weighing up the possibility of activating the release clause of Schalke’s Germany international Julian Draxler, who turned down a move to the Emirates Stadium in the summer.
The 21-year-old is perhaps a little further down the line than Talisca - and has already proven himself on the biggest stage - but would cost significantly more money. Arsenal would need to trigger his £37 million release clause, with Schalke reluctant to sell their prized asset for anything less.