Mikel Arteta is set to hand teenager Charlie Patino a place in the Arsenal first team squad to ward off interest from Barcelona.
The 17-year-old midfielder has been the standout player in the club’s development squads and has appeared in senior training in recent months, where he’s said to have impressed members of the first team.
His stellar showings for the Arsenal England youth teams has led to interest from abroad.
Barcelona have been linked with a move for Patino, who supports the Catalan side due to his admiration for Andres Iniesta and Xavi.But Football.London claim Arsenal insist he is not for sale and they are readying a new contract when he turns 18 later this season.
The Gunners face Wimbledon in the third round of the EFL Cup next week and Arteta is reportedly ready to bring him into the squad for the clash.Patino played an hour for the Gunners in their friendly against Brentford earlier this month – a performance that impressed Arteta enough to consider him for a competitive fixture.
Brian Stapleton, the Arsenal scout who first spotted Patino, is convinced the teenager has what it takes to be a star at the Emirates.
Of all the years I’ve been scouting, he’s the best kid I’ve ever seen,” Stapleton told Goal. “I got a tip off about Charlie from a guy, so I went over there and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He was 11 and I think he was playing in the Under-13s, and I was like ‘wow’.
“His first touch was unbelievable, his vision, his awareness of space. He was way above his years, he was on another planet to anyone else on the pitch.
I made a phone call to my head of my department at Arsenal at the time, Sean O’Connor.
“Sean O’Connor discovered Jack Wilshere and he said to me that Charlie is the best player who has ever walked through the doors at Hale End.”
He added: “There is a pathway that Arsenal have got for him and he’s probably going down the same pathway as Phil Foden at Manchester City.”