Arsenal and Liverpool will have to move quickly to improve any offer for rising star Hakan Calhanoglu, as they are on course to be beaten to his signature by Bayer Leverkusen.
According to the Daily Star, both Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers are keen on the Turkey international but are trailing behind Bayer Leverkusen, who have claimed they already have a verbal agreement with him. The report also claims that of the two teams Arsenal are the most likely to try and step in because of Liverpool's imminent signing of Emre Can from Bayer.
Calhanoglu broke onto the scene last season at Hamburg after his move from Karlsruher in 2013 and almost immediately became a regular in the side, showing a potent mixture of playmaking ability and an eye for goal. However, this was not enough to save the Imtech Arena club from having to go into a relegation playoff, which they subsequently won on away goals to retain their Bundesliga status.
Interest from Leverkusen, Arsenal and Liverpool was no surprise as it became clear that the 20-year-old would be moving on from Hamburg after their struggles last season. The report in the Star run quotes from the club's sporting director Oliver Kreuzer and it sounds as though they are resigned to losing him.
"We have had a lot of contact, Arsenal and Liverpool are interested," he told German newspaper Bild.
However, any potential move to either Emirates Stadium or Anfield looks difficult in light of comments by the Bayer managing director, Michael Schade, who appears confident they will get their man.
"He has accepted our offer verbally and wants to join us. He said that clearly in Hamburg. Calhanoglu wants to be part of our team and what we are building here," he said.
Calhanoglu would be a useful addition to either Arsenal and Liverpool as he can operate in a number of positions across attack an midfield, though he was used predominantly as a wide player or second striker last season for Hamburg.
Wenger has an abundance of attacking midfielders in his ranks, but the young Turkey star would bring some extra cutting edge and a more direct approach with regards to getting into the box and shooting. Despite his obvious talent, Calhanoglu is not an exceptionally speedy player and that a quick, mobile forward is perhaps more what the Gunners need this summer.
Liverpool need to bolster their ranks in most positions ahead of next season as the added weight of the Champions League will take its toll and Rodgers will need more quality depth to the squad if they to have any hope of challenging for the title once again.
Apart from being technically outstanding Calhanoglu has a penchant for scoring spectacular long range efforts and incredible free-kicks. He drew worldwide interest last season by scoring an unbelievable 50-yard free-kick against Borussia Dortmund - watch it below and enjoy...
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