Arsenal are reportedly close to signing talented left-back Joel Lopez from Barcelona and if the deal, as expected, goes ahead then it would certainly make plenty of sense.
The 16-year-old has produced some impressive performances for Barcelona at youth level and would go straight into Arsenal’s U18 squad on a scholarship contract which will become a professional deal when he turns 17.
With Dominic Thompson and Tobi Omole, who have both been offered professional terms, no longer eligible for the U18s next season, Arsenal currently have a lack of options at left-back at that level.
Bukayo Saka often plays as a left-back for England at youth level but the starlet, who will sign scholarship terms this summer, is most often deployed as a winger for Arsenal.
Mazeed Ogungbo, who will still be a schoolboy next season, featured for the U18s towards the end of last season but lacks experience, and Lopez would certainly be first-choice if he was to join.
Lopez would also be part of Arsenal’s squad in the FA Youth Cup as the young Gunners look to go a step further than their most recent campaign, when they were beaten in the final by Chelsea.
Arsenal’s U18 squad appears well stocked at present in all positions bar left-back, and the arrival of Lopez would solve that issue, but, more importantly, the Barcelona defender is an excellent prospect for the long term.
A host of prospects have made the move from Barcelona’s La Masia academy to Arsenal in the past. Some, such as Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin, have been rather successful, while others, including Fran Merida, Julio Pleguezuelo and Jon Toral, have found it difficult to carve out a career at Emirates Stadium.
Lopez will hope to push into Arsenal’s U23 squad in the second half of next season and perhaps even train with the first-team if he impresses sufficiently.
In the immediate, term, though, he is a necessary signing to fix a problem position for Arsenal U18s.