Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has hailed Argentina teammate Rodrigo de Paul amid reports linking Premier League giants Liverpool, Arsenal and Leeds United with the Serie A star, while speaking to Tuttomercatoweb.
Even at the age of 33, an evergreen Messi remains the undisputed King of the Albiceleste.
But, in order for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to wreak his unique brand of chaos, the finest footballer of his generation needs players like De Paul to carry the can; the tireless work-horse and the pedigree stallion.
A talismanic number ten for Udinese at club level, the former Valencia youngster takes on a much more defensively-minded role for his country, showcasing the discipline, versatility and tactical intelligence that has earned him the admiration of both Marcelo Bielsa and Jurgen Klopp, not to mention Messi himself.
Is Rodrigo de Paul heading to the Premier League?
“De Paul is an important player on the pitch, both with and without the ball. Little by little, we got to know each other and I am happy to play with him,” the Argentina captain said ahead of tonight’s Copa America clash with Chile.
According to reports coming out of Italy, Mikel Arteta’s Gunners have joined the race for De Paul’s £35 million-rated signature.
But what do Arsenal have in mind for a player capable of thriving in a variety of midfield roles?
With nine goals and 11 assists to his name for a mid-table Udinese outfit last season, do the London giants see De Paul as a replacement for Martin Odegaard?
Or is the 27-year-old – one-part-silk, two-parts-steel – destined to fill a Granit Xhaka-shaped hole alongside Thomas Partey in a deeper role?