Arsenal are facing something of a fight to keep young talent Charlie Patino at the club this summer, amid interest from Barcelona according to reports.
The Gunners see the 19-year-old as a long term solution in midfield, and have loaned him out to Championship side Blackpool, where he has excelled.
Already a fan favourite, he scored in the Tangerines’ derby win over Preston North End to further endear himself to the fans, while he has also registered two assists in 15 Championship outings.
But the midfielder is out of contract in north London at the end of the season as it stands, with an optional two-year renewal yet to be taken up by the Gunners, leading to fears that they could lose him on a free transfer.
And Barcelona are one of the sides keeping an eye on the young talent, with the Blaugrana having focused heavily on free agents in recent transfer windows. It is something that they plan to continue doing, according to vice-president Matheu Alemany.
“We’ve to focus more and more on the market of players who are free,” Alemany said, per Fabrizio Romano.
“This year we have done it with Kessié, Christensen, Marcos Alonso, and Bellerín, with many more to come.”
Patino has been described as the “best player who has ever walked through the doors at Hale End [Arsenal’s famous academy]” by Arsenal’s head of scouting Sean O’Connor, while Brian Stapleton, the scout who discovered the 18-year-old, told Goal that he was “the best kid I’ve ever seen.”
However, it seems Patino remains keen to stay in north London despite interest from elsewhere, telling Arsenal.com that a “player I really look up to is Bukayo Saka. He’s two years older than me and I’m working my hardest to try and follow in his footsteps. That’s the pathway I want to take at Arsenal.”
Should he be able to do so, the parties will have to agree fresh terms sooner rather than later.