Barcelona have reportedly been scouting CSKA Moscow ace Aleksandr Golovin, but face strong competition from Arsenal, with Gunners manager Arsene Wenger thought to be a keen admirer of the 21-year-old midfielder.
Russian football agent Sandro Varga told Sport Express (h/t Alex Wood of the Daily Star) Wenger asked him to keep tabs on Golovin. However, Varga was also asked about Barca's interest in the player after the Blaugrana scouted him during CSKA's 2-1 win over FC Basel in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
Varga revealed he could see Golovin moving to the Camp Nou, while also detailing Arsenal's interest: "Why not? I see great potential in him. This summer, I watched Alexander a lot at the request of Arsene Wenger. Once such clubs follow the player, it means there’s something there. Their scouting services don’t just watch them for fun."
Significantly, Varga also suggested joining Wenger with the Gunners is the best move for the next stage of Golovin's development: "It all depends on the manager. I have full faith in Wenger. If Aleksandr gets to play under him, he’ll be very lucky."
Wenger does have a career-long history of helping precocious youngsters develop. Yet Barca can also claim the same reputation after bringing several youthful talents through the ranks of their famed La Masia academy.
A number of those prospects ended up dictating play from midfield. However, the Blaugrana may need a refresh in the middle now former academy graduate Andres Iniesta is 33.
Iniesta is a player Golovin mirrors in many ways. He possesses the same close control and trickery on the ball, attributes summed up by these numbers from August, per WhoScored.com:
The same source noted how Golovin has scored twice and provided as many assists across all competitions. Those assists are proof of the accomplished technique the schemer possesses, a trait sure to help him fit in at Barca, a club traditionally faithful to a stylish brand of passing football.
It's a style demanding speed of thought, a key attribute in Golovin's game, according to ESPN FC's Michael Yokhin: "Russian football is way too slow, but Golovin is different. He is light-footed and a quick thinker. He makes things happen, and his all-around style could prove difficult to handle when he is on song."
Yokhin also noted how Golovin can play anywhere in midfield. However, the player himself has named the "playmaker role" as his favourite, per Charles Watts of Football.London.
Barca could use a midfielder this versatile and skilled to continue their refresh in the middle, where Paulinho and Denis Suarez are being put into bigger roles this season.
Arsenal's interest is still noted, but this isn't the first time Varga has suggested Golovin will move to the Gunners. Back in July, he told Sport Express (h/t Jack Otway of the Daily Express) a transfer worth £10-15 million was imminent.
Yet the Gunners' Russian scout Pavel Kucherov told Sports (h/t David Wright of the Daily Express) Golovin isn't talented enough for a move to the top end of the Premier League.
Whether Arsenal's opinion has changed or not, the ongoing scouting by Barca shows that some still hold the player in high regard.