Arsenal are closing in on a deal for French teenager Dayot Upamecano with Arsene Wenger keen to fast-track negotiations, reports The Mirror.
The 16-year-old is currently earning rave reviews at Valenciennes and several of Europe's biggest clubs are interested. Wenger has had his scouts tracking the youngster for some time and has been impressed by the reports.
Manchester United came exceptionally close to signing Upamecano in the January transfer window but failed to submit the correct paperwork before the deadline passed. The French club even announced the agreement on their Twitter account before administrative issues killed it.
A big prospect
Now the Gunners are set to take advantage, going ahead with a £1 million deal with a view to the player joining in the summer. The offer is significantly higher than the £700,000 Manchester United agreed with the club, indicating intent from Wenger to get the deal done as soon as possible.
Upamecano has represented France at both U16 and U17 levels and is now rated as one of the country's best prospects. A competent centre-back, the youngster has also been deployed at full-back.
Article continues below
The versatility is key for Wenger – he has shown an affinity to dynamic players in the recent past. The Frenchman forked out £16 million to sign Calum Chambers from Southampton in the summer, citing his ability to play at centre-back, full-back and even defensive midfield as a reason for pursuing such a deal.
Unlike Chambers, Upamecano would most probably not be given a role in the first-team, instead developing for the U21 side or going out on loan. The recent signing of Gabriel Paulista means places in the first team squad are at a premium. However, Wenger's track record with developing young talent makes joining Arsenal an attractive prospect.
Signing Upamecano at this young age will be crucial to making sure he can be included in the Premier League's homegrown rules. The regulations require eight out of the 25-man squad to be made of a player who has spent three years at an English club prior to their 21st birthday, regardless of nationality.
PSG, Monaco and Inter Milan have all been credited with an interest as well, but the player is believed to have his heart set on a move to England. Whether Louis van Gaal is ready to match Arsenal's bid is not known. He certainly has the financial resources to do it, but whether he has enough pulling power to convince Upamecano to reject Arsenal is another thing altogether.