Barcelona's exciting wide man Cristian Tello remains a player very much in demand, and his stock has risen again over the past week.
The young speedster certainly showed his quality to potential suitors during Barca's thumping Copa Del Rey quarter final win against Levante earlier this week.
The Reds’ interest however, which had been ongoing since the summer, appears to have cooled and, as David Kent of the Daily Mail noted, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was in Spain to run the rule over Tello this week.
He couldn’t fail to have been impressed, Tello scoring his first Barcelona hat trick as Barca cruised to a 4-1 win.
Although, according to John Cross of The Mirror, Wenger denied having any interest in the player.
#afc Wenger confirms he was at Heathrow but says links with Tello are 'wide of the mark'— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) January 23, 2014
Tello has found himself on the periphery of the first team picture at Barca again this season.
The same position that Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez have also been vying for all season. Three into one won’t go, and Tello has been the fall guy.
Last Wednesday’s cup tie was another chance for him to show Tata Martino and the footballing public the extra dimension he brings to Barca’s attacking play—and he didn’t disappoint.
Tello’s lightning pace is a real asset, and this forms a large part of his natural game.
Easily one of the quickest players over the first 10-15 meters, he got in behind Levante’s defenders on every occasion and ran them ragged.
His three goals and incisive link-up play were evidence enough of the damage he can cause when given the opportunity. And herein lies Martino’s issue.
Tello has already issued him with an ultimatum, per Miles Chambers of Goal.com:
Martino spoke to me at the start of the season and told me to be patient, insisting the academy players would all get our chance.
I will consider leaving.
Taking that step will be very difficult but I think everyone has to evaluate their role. As the years go by, you want your role to change and you want to play more often.
With that in mind, Wenger must continue his pursuit of a player that will rip Premier League defences apart.
Pete Jensen of the Daily Mail details his similarities to the injured Theo Walcott and why he would be a perfect like-for-like replacement:
You could draw comparisons with Theo Walcott. He has the same pace and direct running that compliments Barcelona’s pass-pass-pass.
Teams love to squeeze up against Barcelona and close the space where Messi, Iniesta and Xavi love to play but against Tello’s speed it’s not so easy for them to play with a high line.
He also has an excellent scoring ratio. His hat-trick on Wednesday night came from five shots at goal. He got seven goals in his first season two years ago and eight last season.
Tello’s 20 goals in 49 Barca appearances are more than acceptable from a wide position and compares favourably to Walcott’s 45 in 194 appearances over a much longer period.
With Wenger suggesting he "feels guilty" at not making a signing (per Jim van Wijk of the Independent), it’s time for him to go that extra mile and grab a player who will light up the Emirates.