Arsenal are interested in Benfica wonderkid Goncalo Guedes but face a race for his signature as Europe's elite chase the youngster dubbed the "new Cristiano Ronaldo."
Alex Harris of the Daily Star said the Gunners sent scouts to watch the teenager play for his club against Galatasaray in the Champions League on Tuesday, but he is also being considered by Manchester United, Manchester City and Barcelona.
Football writer Jan Hagen confirmed the multitude of clubs represented at the Benfica match:
The 18-year-old has only played a handful of games since his breakthrough in 2014, but he has made a lasting impression as he dances and moves like his iconic countryman.
Harris reported Barca could move for the player as early as January, after their transfer registration ban ends, allowing them to strengthen their squad.
However, Guedes has a £40 million release clause built into his current deal, per O Jogo (h/t Jamie Anderson of the Daily Star), as the winger signed shortly before coming to the attention of Europe's big clubs.
The youngster featured 26 times for Benfica's reserves last year and scored seven goals, as well as providing 12 assists, per Anderson.
He has now broken into the first-team, appearing 12 times in all competitions this term, according to Harris, and his stock has exploded.
Any player given the tag of the "new" Ronaldo must be approached with extreme caution, but Guedes has a skill set that makes him a magnificent prospect.
Manchester United won the CR7 lottery when they took him to Old Trafford as a boy, and Arsenal will hope to repeat that feat with the capture of Guedes.
However, at £40 million, he is ridiculously expensive, especially for a talent who is not proven in the major leagues.
In comparable terms, Raheem Sterling signed with City for £49 million last summer, aged 20, per Joe Bernstein of the Daily Mail, but he was already an established international and burgeoning superstar.
Guedes is neither of these, but the Ronaldo billing will get everyone excited about what he could achieve in the next few seasons.
Arsenal are not purveyors of width, often playing a more narrow formation with attackers flanking a striker. The Portugal under-21 player would give manager Arsene Wenger a different kind of wing option, allowing him to play with two players at the top of his attack.
The Gunners could also add Dynamo Kiev’s Andriy Yarmolenko to their forward line with Guedes, and manager Serhiy Rebrov admitted he could depart his team, per Tom Olver of Metro: "If you are asking me then I don’t want to sell the player, I want to keep him in the team. But, at the end of the day, it’s all about the relationship with the president."
Guedes would need time to develop, just as Ronaldo took three years to bloom in the north-west, but it is a good period for him to arrive at Arsenal—with the first-team bursting with creative talent that he could learn from.
The presence of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez would tutor the winger as he develops, and Arsenal might end up with one of the best players in the world if he is anywhere near as good as the Real Madrid superstar.