Reported Arsenal striker target: 'Spurs a team of champions'

Benfica’s Rodrigo was counted among the slew of strikers linked with Arsenal in January, and now has praised this week's opponents Tottenham Hotspur.

The Brazilian-born Spain youth international reportedly caught Arsene Wenger’s eye as a potential solution to the Gunners’ striker situation in the winter transfer window.

Since returning to the Estadio da Luz from a loan spell with Bolton Wanderers in the summer of 2011 he’s been a near regular for the Lisbon outfit, hitting 23 goals in 51 Primeira Liga appearances.

And the French boss was believed to have taken an interest in bringing him to north London, only to ultimately remain unconvinced as Arsenal stuck with the limited options available upfront.

In the intervening time, the rights to Rodrigo were sold by his current employers to private investment firm Meriton Capital Limited for a reported €30m to ease Benfica’s financial woes.

The striker’s future remains in doubt as he will remain with the Aguias until the end of the season, seemingly to be put on the market for any club willing to pay a hefty sum come June.

It’s unclear whether Arsenal will emerge once more as a one of the parties keen on splashing the cash, the Premier League’s third party ownership rules possibly coming into play in such a scenario.

But for now Rodrigo remains focused on matters at hand for Benfica, the latest of which is a scheduled visit to take on Tottenham on Thursday in Europa League action.

The 23-year-old has turned to praise Spurs in the build-up to the round of 16 encounter, also expressing delight at returning to the nation he formerly plied his trade in.

“It’s always good to go back to England,” he told Benfica TV. “It has a fantastic championship and the atmosphere in the stadiums is always great.

“The tie is between two equals - two teams of champions. The game will be played at a high level, worthy of this stage of the Europa League.

“The side that goes through will be the one that makes fewer mistakes and plays to the final whistle.”

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