A little over a month ago it seemed Arsenal had picked up one of Africa’s most promising prospects when it emerged that Zambian international Stoppila Sunzu seemed to be on his way to The Emirates. At the time the TP Mazembe player announced:
"I will be travelling to England to sign a deal with Arsenal after the friendly game against Tanzania. I spoke to both Mr Katumbi (his current club manager) and Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger who assured me that I would not be going to London for trials but to discuss personal terms and possibly sign a contract."
A done deal it seemed and indeed that is quite rightly what everyone thought? He had the best wishes of his parent club, blessing of his manager and had even spoken to Arsene Wenger personally about the deal so there must have been something in it.
At just 23-years-old he already has over 30 caps for the Chipolopolo and will be part of the team that helps defend their crown as Champions of Africa in South Africa this month; so he certainly possesses pedigree beyond his years.
Arsenal had therefore purchased a rough diamond who may have one day made it into the first-team. But that now appears to not be the case.
After starring for Zambia at the 2007 under-20 World Cup he was invited for a trial at Reading FC and the Berkshire club were extremely excited about his potential and bringing him in permanently was a major consideration. Unfortunately at this time he had not yet featured for his national side and obtaining a work permit for the then teenager was impossible.
But clearly they have not forgotten about him as it has emerged over the weekend that Sunzu will become a Reading player by Tuesday; pending a medical.
"Indeed, Sunzu is heading to Reading for tests after the agreement by TP Mazembe and the Zambia Federation. He just sent us a message in which he thanked the club."
Sunzu will not be available for selection until a work permit is granted and considering he is a regular for a team ranked 34th in FIFA Rankings this should not be an issue. The admin of the deal can be sorted out while he attempts to keep the African Nations Cup in Southern Africa over the next month and by the time the competition is over he should be a Reading FC player.
If he lives up to his potential Arsenal may have missed out on a bargain buy, and Reading will have certainly got one.
Do you think he has made the right choice by joining Reading?
image: © brokenkey