Wenger lines up triple swoop for Championship starlets

Arsene Wenger is always looking to build for the future, and could swoop for three youngsters who ply their trade in the Championship.

Wenger has been linked with a number of big name players month, including Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa and Julian Draxler of Schalke, but the Frenchman insisted that the Gunners are unlikely to be bringing in any players this month during his press conference yesterday.

However, new speculation is linking Wenger with a triple swoop for Championship stars Alex McCarthy, Jamaal Lascelles and Jordan Cousins – with McCarthy being the oldest at 24, it's another sign that Wenger is trying to bring in young players and develop them in North London – as he has done for much of his career as Arsenal boss.

McCarthy has established himself as Reading's #1 shot-stopper, and one of the best in the Championship, having taken over from Australian international Adam Federici. Wenger is reportedly lining up a move for the former England Under-21 international, with regular second-choice Lukasz Fabianski set to leave the Emirates Stadium in the summer upon the expiration of his contract. Liverpool have also been linked with a move for McCarthy recently, but a move to Arsenal may be more appealing with Wenger's history of work with young players.

Nottingham Forest defender Lascelles has been highly rated for many years, and was even the subject of a £5m bid from Wenger in 2011, which was promptly rejected by Forest, who saw the great potential that now-20-year-old Lascelles had. A regular for England at youth levels, Lascelles has recently been the subject of an illegal approach from Everton, for which the Toffees were fined £45,000, but his future could still be in the Premier League. Arsenal have a solid partnership in Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, but with Thomas Vermaelen reportedly unsettled and little depth behind him, Lascelles could be groomed up to be the next great Gunners centre back.

Finally, Cousins has been a regular for Charlton Athletic, and is the youngest of the three targets at just 19-years-old. Chief scout Steve Rowley reportedly went to watch right back Cousins, and of course wouldn't be the first Charlton right back to make the move to North London, as Carl Jenkinson made the same switch in 2011 – but Arsenal fans will be hoping that, should Cousins end up donning the red and white of Arsenal rather than Charlton, he will be more of a success for the club than Jenkinson, who has had an indifferent time at the Emirates Stadium so far.

Gunners fans may be hoping for Costa or Draxler, but Wenger has built his sides upon his strong belief in youth development, and the latest rumours would once again suggest that the Arsenal boss would rather develop his own players than pay premium prices for foreign talent.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch