Arsenal join the Manchester clubs in race for the 'next Gerard Pique'

Borja Lopez Menendez has been catching the eye at Spanish second tier side Sporting Gijon. We take a look at his talent and whether he could be on his way to the Premier League soon.

On Tuesday HITC brought you news of a former Arsenal Spanish starlet trying to escape the clutches of the Segunda Liga in his homeland with news of Fran Merida’s apparently imminent exile to Brazil with Atletico Paranaense.

But while one former Arsenal player tries to leave Spain’s second tier for a Brazilian adventure another could well be on his way to North London as it is being reported Arsenal are now also in the running for Sporting Gijon defender Borja Lopez.

The 18-year-old has progressed through the Sporting Gijon reserve system and this year made his debut for the team in a Copa Del Rey match with Osasuna in November. Since then he has come on leaps and bounds; becoming a first-team regular in the heart of Gijon’s defence.

He has played 11 league games for the club and in that time they have only lost twice (although his disciplinary record is not so great with eight yellow cards in the same period). He gives you everything you would expect from a young Spanish central defender; adding technical ability to his aerial ability and organisational prowess.

He has featured for Spain’s under-18s and was part of the team that won the Atlantic Cup tournament in 2012 and is considered one of the country’s most exciting young talents outside of La Liga.

If you are looking for comparisons then one player comes to mind; Gerard Pique. He is equally comfortable with the ball at his feet and is not afraid to find the pass rather than hoof the ball long in a blind panic. His height is also a strong indicator of his resemblance to the Barcelona and former Manchester United man. At 192cm (that’s 6ft 4ins for those of a less continental disposition) he is exactly the same height as the Spanish international.

He recently signed a new contract to keep him at Gijon until 2017 but it reportedly carries a £4.5 million release clause; which could prove a neat investment if he lives up to his ‘Pique’ like potential.

He certainly fits the Arsenal bill but they will reportedly face competition for his signature; and just like Pique he may end up in Manchester.

Both Manchester United and Manchester City have been reported to have made personal checks on the development of the player in 2013 with Martin Ferguson and Txiki Begiristain respectively checking over the promising Spaniard.

For now his attention must return to continuing his current clubs march away from the relegation zone and into the La Liga playoffs; Rojiblancos currently sit seven points clear of the drop and eight adrift of potential promotion but once the campaign comes to an end he may have some important decisions to make about his future.

Have you seen Borja Lopez play? Does he have Premier League potential?

images: © seriouslysilly, © soroll

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