Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Antonio Sanabria Move Makes Sense for Barcelona Talent

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08:  The Arsenal badge is seen on the side of the stadium ahead of  the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton at Emirates Stadium on December 8, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Arsenal are reportedly closing in on the signing of Barcelona starlet Antonio "Tonny" Sanabria, who is seeking assurances of first-team football with either club. 

According to the Daily Mail's David Kent, the 17-year-old is open to the idea of leaving his current Catalan setting to realise his potential, something it seems he does not feel will happen at the Camp Nou.

The teenager will undoubtedly be an unknown quantity for many Gunners fans, but Sanabria's plaudits are widespread and hold a great deal of promise should the English giants capture one of South America's up-and-coming talents.

A short passage from Kent's report reads:

Barcelona are keen to keep hold of the starlet, but have failed to meet Sanabria's demands leading him to reject their most recent contract offers.

It has been reported that the Gunners are ready to sign the forward in January and are ready to meet his £2.5m release clause in a deal that could go up to £4.5m.

Sanabria isn't the first striker to become linked with the Gunners in recent months as Arsene Wenger looks to offer Olivier Giroud support in attack. Nicklas Bendtner is currently the only true backup for the Frenchman at the Emirates.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19:  Nicklas Bendtner of Arsenal reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at Emirates Stadium on October 19, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Sanabria's lack of top flight experience—he is yet to debut for Barcelona—means he isn't likely to provide an instant solution to Arsenal's lack of striking depth, but that doesn't mean he can't ease the burden on Giroud.

Due to work permit issues, Joel Campbell is another forward whom Arsenal have signed in recent years but is yet to make his name on the Premier League stage; but Sanabria is better equipped to succeed where the Costa Rican has not.

Fabrizio Romano of Sky Sport24 has stated that Chelsea are among the interested parties:

In seven starts for both Barcelona B and the Barca youth team this season, Sanabria has six goals to his name, per

A senior Paraguay international raised at Barca since his early teens, it's no surprise that flair and a propensity for the extravagant account for some of Sanabria's worth as a striker.

While his first-team impact may be minimal at first, the attacker's worth in the long run is likely to transcend his reported £2.5 million price tag, evoking a familiar feeling to cut-price moves that Wenger has made for young talent in the past.

CARTAGENA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 06:  Cesc Fabregas (R) of Barcelona celebrates after scoring with his teammate Jordi Alba during the Copa del Rey Round of 32 match between FC Cartagena and FC Barcelona at Estadio Cartagonova on December 06, 2013 in Cartagena,
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Cesc Fabregas was an equally unknown, and cheap, quantity when he joined Arsenal, and it is to Barcelona's next generation that Wenger will look once again.

This being Sanabria's first professional season, the starlet has taken no time in making his way into the headlines, with Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo (h/t Alex Richards of the Mirror) claiming that the player has already given a verbal agreement to a club, thought to be the Gunners.

With the strike force becoming a priority area of recruitment for Wenger, a move for the Paraguayan now makes sense for club and player.

Arsenal need bodies to cover for tired legs and injury, while Sanabria needs a more realistic shot at first-team football. By joining the Gunners in January, he would have at least six months to acclimatise to the English game.

If he makes an immediate impact, both parties benefit. If he takes time to settle, Arsenal will simply do what they always do and nurture young talent. Either way, it will be fascinating for Gunners fans to watch the 17-year-old grow.