Champions League hopefuls Arsenal and Liverpool are set to scrap it out for Eintracht Frankfurt star Sebastian Rode
Arsenal and Liverpool are not only battling for a Champions League place in the Premier League, but now for Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Sebastian Rode.
The 23-year-old central midfielder has long been a rumoured target for Bayern Munich, but with Pep Guardiola's men hosting an abundance of midfielders, it seems unlikely that Rode will choose to move to Bavaria.
Instead, Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers are lining up moves for Rode, whose contract expires next summer and can sign a pre-contract agreement with a team in January, meaning he can move for free in 2014.
And Rode has made his intentions clear, signalling that his time in Frankfurt will come to an end upon the expiration of his contract. Speaking in the summer and as reported by ITB, Rode said 'I have a contract with Eintracht until 2014 and I am very happy in Frankfurt. During talks with the club bosses, I made it clear quite soon that I will fulfil my contract, but would not like to extend it. I have not signed on for any other club and I would like to commit all of my energy and concentration to my team and my performance.'
An energetic, box to box midfielder, Rode has earned a reputation in Germany for being a hard-working, versatile player, but he's more than just Germany's answer to James Milner – he's incredibly talented with the ball at his feet, showing great passing and dribbling skills.
Arsenal are currently building something of a German contingent at the Emirates Stadium, with Per Mertesacker, Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil all playing key roles in Arsenal's squad, whilst youngster Serge Gnabry is also emerging as a promising player. Adding another could be an option with Rode, whose ability to play the holding midfield role will be immensely valuable, especially in light of Mathieu Flamini's injury.
Liverpool, meanwhile, are seemingly always on the lookout for young talent and moving to add a player for free appears to be a wise idea, despite their previous free signings from Germany not really panning out – see Phillip Degen and Andriy Voronin. Joe Allen has been something of a disappointment since his move from Swansea, whilst Steven Gerrard is 34 next year and some may say adding a young player now in order to integrate him into the side ahead of a more prominent role would be beneficial.
Whilst it isn't guaranteed that Rode will move to England – there are bound to be big clubs in Germany chasing his signature – a move to a top side will surely enhance his chances of pressuring Lars and Sven Bender, Ilkay Gundogan and even Sami Khedira for a place in Joachim Loew's Germany squads, even though next summer's World Cup is likely to come too soon.
image: © Bernard C