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Arsenal defender search turns to Croatian teenager

| 22.06.2013

Their no-expense-spared pursuit of Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain may have suggested that Arsene Wenger was becoming a little more amenable to signing ready-made first teamer players – and the cash-splashing that such methodology inevitably requires – but news that he’s ready to switch his attentions from Swansea’s Ashley Williams to Croatian teenager Tin Jedvaj as he seeks central defensive reinforcements are more like transfer alchemist of old.

Whilst not necessarily the kind of target to have the Emirates crowd swooning over their balti pies, Williams is the kind of player that could make a difference to Arsenal both as a team and as a squad. He’s an ultra-committed leader whose vocal on-pitch presence has been a galvanising force for Swansea on their journey from League One to the top flight.

However, the Wales skipper’s £10m price tag has been deemed exorbitant by Wenger and so his attentions have turned to Dinamo Zagreb rookie Jedvaj.

Gooners shouldn’t be too exasperated with the latest spurning of experience in favour of innocence, as with everything quiet on the Laurent Koscielny rumour front they may well be set fair to make what could be a very useful investment for the future.

Jedvaj – still only 17 – signed professional papers with Dinamo in the season just passed and has already amassed a handy 13 starts for the club. Whilst strikers and wingers often come by their fair share of first team action at a tender age, it’s far rarer to see a youngster trusted to perform in central defence, where failures and inexperience are that much more harshly punished.

Roma have already had a £5m bid for the player some regard as the finest Croatian prospect since Luka Modric turned down by Dinamo and the Gunners will now attempt to gazump the Giallorossi with a £6m offer of their own.

Coming into a top flight team as a teenage centre half is an honour usually reserved for defenders of the ilk of Gunners legend Tony Adams or Chelsea’s John Terry and a deal for Jedvaj could prove one of Wenger’s shrewdest youth signings for some time.

Arsenal can be backed at 2/5 to get their season off to a flying start at home to Aston Villa when the Premier League recommences in August.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.



Thomas Reynolds