5 facts about Arsenal, Chelsea wonderkid target: Next Suarez or next Robben?

Arjen Robben

Premier League pair Arsenal & Chelsea are reportedly after Groningen star, the same Dutch club as Arjen Robben and Liverpool star Luis Suarez hailed from.

Once again Netherlands, a country famed for being a conveyor belt of technically-exquisite footballing talent, is on the cusp of producing another superstar, this time on the books at Groningen, but a player who, at just 17 years of age, is attracting a plethora of elite-level European clubs including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and, according to a recent report in The Mirror; Chelsea and Arsenal.

That player is Richairo Zivkovic - and here are five facts about him.

1): He's already been mentioned in the same breath as…

…former Chelsea star and current Bayern Munich attacker Arjen Robben by excitable tabloid scouts, yet he is not as follicly-challenged as the 2013 Champions League winner and plays in a position further up the field, as a centre forward. The Robben link, though, is most probably built on the shared foundations he has with Zivkovic as they were both developed by the Groningen coaching staff, just like current Liverpool superstar Luis Suarez.

2): Two-time record-breaker, but which?…

Up until the age of 11, he played for FVV - a local football academy - where he was spotted by Groningen. In 2012 when signing adult tersm, he was promoted into the senior team and, in December, became the youngest every player to represent the club in their entire history. In August, 2013, he then became their youngest goal-scorer, too, when he busted the net in a match versus NEC Nijmegen.

3): Before Chelsea and Arsenal were interested…

…it was Liverpool who seemed like the Premier League party most keen to return to Groningen for a raid. When the summer transfer market was open for trading last year, Groningen director Hans Nijland was quoted by The Mirror to have said: 'All the top clubs in Holland want him but Liverpool are here every week too. They are watching him closely and very keen.'

4): He is a breakout Eredivise star this season as last year…

…he competed in a total of 41 minutes (four appearances), compared to this year where he has participated in 18 games, or 629 minutes and has even returned five goals, scoring against NEC, Utrecht, Alkmaar, Vitesse and Heracles Almelo. He has, thus far, attempted 26 shots, meaning he has a chance conversion rate of, near enough, one goal from every five shots.

5): Despite the hype he remains…

…raw. He is undoubtedly adept when it comes to technique, and he has a distinct advantage playing as a forward when he has wideboy traits such as explosive speed and good running ability. He is threatening with the ball and becoming clinical, however, for a club like Arsenal or Chelsea to pick him up now would most likely only hinder his progress.

Groningen are eighth in the Eredivisie with a game in hand, they are a team where Zivkovic is playing regularly - already - and could remedy his stylistic weaknesses - he is weak in the air despite having good height, he cannot hold on to the ball well and his passing is weak (65% accuracy per game with just 115 passes attempted thus far this season).

image: © Lorenzo Blangiardi

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