Barcelona starlet Antonio Sanabria has revealed he is set to join Roma, quashing Arsenal's chances of landing the Paraguayan prospect.
As reported by Sky Sports, the 17-year-old confirmed he is set for a move to Serie A during an interview with Radio Monumental 1080 AM:
"Roma already put the necessary money to the Spanish Federation for the clause asked by Barcelona," Sanabria said.
The young striker also confirmed he isn't due to link up with Rudi Garcia's squad just yet, claiming he'll "go on loan to another Serie A team."
Metro previously reported Sanabria had agreed a five-year-deal with Arsenal after the player made his intentions of quitting the Camp Nou clear. An Emirates switch was expected "imminently," but it seems Roma have pipped the Gunners to a player who has the potential to be a future star.
Sanabria has netted three times for Barcelona B this season, although he has only played 570 minutes across 10 appearances, according to Soccerway.
The developing player, who possesses speed, power and finishing ability, also made his senior international debut during Paraguay's 3-3 draw with Germany on Aug. 14, 2013.
While an excellent eight-minute experience for the striker, his arrival on the international stage cannot be backed up by an appearance for Barcelona's main team.
It appears Sanabria will move for a €3 million fee, a measly total when you consider what La Blaugrana could capture for his services, as noted by talkSPORT journalist Lee Roden:
Interesting to learn (via @gerardromero ) that if Sanabria had been assigned a Barça B squad # they'd get 12 million for him, not 3.— Lee Roden (@LeeRoden89) January 8, 2014
Sanabria would have been extremely hard-pushed to make an impact at Arsenal this season, but there's no doubt his transfer to Roma throws up a missed opportunity for the Gunners.
Arsene Wenger needs to immediately strengthen his squad's attacking options—especially considering Theo Walcott is ruled out for the rest of the season, per BBC Sport—but the Frenchman is likely to target more experienced stars this campaign.
Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa currently leads the list of rumoured targets, per Alex Richards of the Mirror, but Wenger faces an uphill battle to tear the prolific forward away from Diego Simeone's high-flying side.
Will Arsenal regret not signing Antonio Sanabria?
Right now, Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner remain the veteran boss' only out-and-out strikers, although Lukas Podolski's return to fitness couldn't be more timely.
With Arsenal competing for Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League glory, Wenger would be foolish to see the onset of February without adding firepower to his squad.
Sanabria may turn out to be one star who got away, but the North London club have more pressing concerns to address before getting choked up about his decision to head toward the Italian capital.