Arsenal are on the verge of securing Champions League football for 2014-15 and will have more than one eye already on the FA Cup Final as well as the upcoming summer transfer window.
Arsene Wenger could be looking to add working with young talent to his storied reputation.
According to The Express' Ben Jefferson, it seems very possible PSV's Zakaria Bakkali will be available this summer. A PSV source has already identified the young Belgian as a player Wenger would be very interested in acquiring.
"Bakkali is a player that Wenger rates highly," the source said. "Arsenal have kept an eye on him and are aware that other teams want him, so could move in the summer to buy him."
The 18-year-old exploded into the spotlight with several dominant performances against NEC Nijmegen and Zulte Waregem in the first month of the 2013-14 season, becoming the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick in the Eredivisie:
Marc Wilmots and the Belgian national team did everything in their power to make the youngster commit to the squad, despite him playing at a position of strength for the Red Devils, further illustrating what an immense talent he is.
As a winger, he faces competition from Eden Hazard and his younger brother Thorgan, Kevin de Bruyne, Kevin Mirallas, Dries Mertens, Nacer Chadli, Adnan Januzaj and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco—another supremely talented Belgian set to break out—just to name a few.
Despite such riches out on the wing, Wilmots had to have Bakkali. The youngster played with such explosiveness, making defenders look bad and almost scoring at will, that it wasn't hard to see why.
Injury halted his rise to prominence, and a young and inexperienced PSV side soon started to struggle in the Eredivisie. Faced with growing backlash from fans and media, the coaching staff started relying more on older players in an attempt to turn the tide, giving fewer minutes to youngsters like Bakkali.
The fact that he was no longer able to play for Jong PSV, the team's youth setup, didn't help.
Bakkali started getting frustrated, and when the team presented him with a contract extension, he was reluctant to sign. This is where Arsenal come in, as a summer move for Bakkali could be one of Wenger's all-time greatest steals.
As reported by Jefferson, Bakkali has been given somewhat of an ultimatum to re-sign with PSV. If he doesn't, he will be placed on the transfer list "immediately."
While this might seem drastic, it's the kind of knee-jerk reaction one could expect from PSV.
After all, the Dutch side lost another highly touted youngster in similar fashion recently when Zakaria Labyad bolted for Sporting Lisbon on a free transfer. Faced with the possibility of losing Bakkali, PSV will sell before his contract runs out in order to make sure they don't lose the Belgian on a free transfer as well.
According to Jefferson, PSV's Marcel Brands told Voetbal Internationaal as much. "We have offered Bakkali the best renewal possible, now it's up to him. We won't run after anyone," he said.
Compared to last November, when the world was at his feet, Bakkali's value is at an all-time low.
Wenger knows this, and it's why he should strike now. Sure, the Belgian will need at least two more years of seasoning before he could even think of making an impact at Arsenal, but there are few better places to go to as a youngster.
Wenger knows how to work with youth. He turned Thierry Henry into one of the world's greatest strikers. He made Dennis Bergkamp into the player he eventually became. He nurtured a young Robin van Persie into a lethal scoring machine.
Bakkali's star may have faded past November, but his talent is still there. The explosive acceleration, the eye for goal, the incredible dribbling skills.
He's a shoot-first type of player that plays with a lot of swagger, often even looking arrogant on the pitch. However he has displayed an enormous engine as well as huge amounts of raw potential at PSV.
Bakkali isn't a safe bet to become a superstar. In fact, he's the very definition of a boom-or-bust player, with a ceiling as high as Eden and a floor as low as Kylian Hazard—yes, there's a third brother, and he's currently playing in one of Belgium's lower divisions.
He's the kind of player you would normally be reluctant to sign, as the selling club would be looking to cash in on his enormous potential. PSV won't be so picky, though.
Transfermarkt currently values the player at £2.2 million, which is pocket change for today's top Premier League clubs. Given his situation at PSV, Bakkali won't have to cost much more than that, even with Jefferson suggesting that there's been interest from Liverpool and Real Madrid.
This would be a classic Wenger deal, investing a small sum in a player who, with the right guidance, could soon be amongst the very best wingers the Premier League has to offer.
Wenger should call PSV the second the transfer window opens and make his offer, and you can fully expect him to do just that.
A move to the English capital would be best for all parties involved.
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