£9.5m January Arsenal target 'has the personality to lead' Barcelona

Sergio Samper

Sergi Samper is being tipped for big things at Barcelona.

Arsenal are already believed to be planning some of their January business, with a player dubbed the 'next Fabregas' reportedly in the cross-hairs of the club.

Sergi Samper is considered one of Barcelona's hottest prospects after an excellent campaign with the 'B' team last term and is now set to launch an assault on the Barca first-team, especially with Luis Enrique giving an extra incentive for young players to come through the ranks.

But the 19-year-old is said to be in Arsenal's sights, as they look to strengthen their midfield area, especially when it comes to a more youthful recruit.

He has a release clause in his contract of around £9.5 million and should he not get regular football with the Barca first-team before January, he might be tempted to make the move.

But now it looks increasingly unlikely they will get their man, after Samper officially made his way into the Barca first-team last night.

Samper, who models his game on Sergio Busquets, started for the Catalan club in their Champions League tie against APOEL Nicosia at the Nou Camp yesterday - making his debut for the club in the process.

And he did not disappoint. Samper played the most amount of passes in the game and received the man-of-the-match award in the tightly contested 1-0 victory over the plucky Cypriot side.

After the game Luis Enrique sang the praises of the 19-year-old in quotes reported by El Periodico:

"He's done an outstanding job. We deeply congratulate Samper, it has been shown he has the personality to lead the team and I think he is another great discovery for the club, he will accompany us on this journey."

That certainly does not sound like a man ready to part with a talent. The lad himself said after the game, barely managing to contain his excitement:

"Starting at the Camp Nou is priceless, has been incredible. It's an incredible feeling, the coach congratulated me."

With Samper breaking into the Barca first-team with such aplomb and his future looking bright in Catalonia it looks increasingly likely that Arsenal will not be getting the teenager in January - or, judging by the longevity of Busquets, Xavi and Andres Iniesta's Barca careers, any time soon.

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