Reported Arsenal target Fabian Schar was given the unenviable task of facing Cristiano Ronaldo in FC Basel’s midweek Champions League clash against Real Madrid, but the Swiss centre-back just about held his own on the night.
With the visitors fielding a formidable forward line of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, Schar was kept on his toes for the entire 90 minutes, and found himself pulled out of position a little too often during the first-half.
No more so was that evident than in the 35th-minute, when he drifted out of central defence to allow Benzema to burst past and deliver a textbook pass inside for the Portuguese superstar to net the lone goal of the game.
He would recover from there to rob both Benzema and Bale of possession on a couple of occasions, however, before going into the book 10 minutes before the end with a crunching tackle on the former Manchester United man, which drew criticism in the Spanish press.
There were moments when he struggled, no doubt, but if Arsenal scouts were in attendance at St. Jakob-Park then they would have headed back to London with a mostly positive report.
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Aged 22, Schar’s transformation into one of the Swiss football’s most touted assets has been a somewhat meteoric one, having trained for a backup career as a banker while toiling in the second-tier with childhood club FC Wil, until sealing a breakthrough move to Basel in the summer of 2012.
Going on to make his international debut last August, before making two starts at the World Cup in Brazil, the nine-times capped defender has since established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet, and has even grabbed four goals with his noted aerial prowess from set pieces.
Having entered the final season of his contract, Basel are in the midst of attempting to negotiate a new deal with their star man but, with talks stalling, the danger of losing him for nothing in the summer could force the club to entertain offers once the coming transfer window opens.
With Arsenal’s need for defensive help no secret, a potential bid of around £10 million has been mooted, but there remains reported competition from the likes of Juventus and Premier League rivals Manchester United.
In fact, there have even been claims that Juve are on the verge of a agreeing a pre-arranged deal, suggesting that the Gunners might need to move fast in order to secure his signature.
Strong in the air and comfortable on the ball, Schar would present an ideal Wenger purchase, considering his age, price tag, potential and big stage experience, but it remains to be seen how things will unfold between now and the New Year.