Arsenal and AC Milan are set to battle it out for Rubin Kazan striker Sardar Azmoun, who confirmed playing in the Premier League "would be a dream coming true."
The 19-year-old Iranian also claimed he is the subject of offers from both clubs after a decent start to the Russian Premier League season, per Gary Jones of the Daily Star:
There already are solid offers coming from both Arsenal and AC Milan. Both their representatives are about to meet Rubin Kazan management next Thursday.
I'm really happy for such clubs being interested in signing me, and playing in Premier League would be a dream coming true. But now I'm just focused on the remaining part of Russian championship.
Azmoun has netted three goals in seven starts and three substitute appearances this season, per WhoScored.com. Two of these goals have come in his last two matches, where his strikes couldn't stop Rubin from losing 2-1 to FK Rostov and 6-2 to Andre Villas-Boas' Zenit Saint Petersburg.
Although yet to make his senior international debut, Azmoun is a prolific scorer throughout Iran's youth ranks. He netted six goals in nine games for the Under-17s before scoring 20 in 14 for the Under-19s, as recorded by transfermarkt. He should be considered an alternative option for the nation's squad at this summer's World Cup.
The youngster is pacey, a smart passer and has excellent composure with the ball at his feet. Arsene Wenger would be purchasing a far-from-finished product—especially if he's looking for a defensive contribution—but there's no doubt Azmoun has potential.
His Emirates arrival would need to coincide with the acquisition of a big-money striker, someone who can slot straight into the first team, or else, Wenger would be accused of stubbornness when spending money. Many fans want the Frenchman gone after Sunday's 3-0 defeat to Everton, as summed up by Nigel Phillips of the Arsenal Supporters' Trust and reported via the Mirror's John Cross:
Of course Wenger’s achievements at Arsenal in the first half of his reign have bought him the leeway he is now using, but the well of goodwill is almost empty. This is another pivotal summer for the club.
Azmoun's signing would certainly be one for the future, but for Wenger, it feels like he needs to quickly sign players for the present. Mesut Ozil was a rare purchase; someone bought to immediately influence the team, something he did for the first couple of months before a shocking loss of form.
Despite Azmoun's early success, he is yet to be regularly tested at the highest level. Arsenal's recent history is littered with talented strikers who were never given much of a chance to succeed—the likes of Carlos Vela and Park Chu-Young—so it's difficult to see Azmoun slotting straight into first-team plans if he is to arrive.
He is more than capable of developing into the efficient, energetic forward Wenger needs—plus he boasts a natural sharpness in front of goal—but Azmoun is unlikely to satisfy the needs of Gunners fans who wish to see significant money spent.