Arsenal are prepared to go head-to-head with Manchester United and German giants Bayern Munich in the battle to sign highly-rated Everton youngster Thierry Small, according to reports.
The 16-year-old left-back, who became the club’s youngest ever player last season, has not returned to Everton’s Finch Farm training base for pre-season, as Rafael Benitez begins to get his feet under the table in his new role.
According to The Athletic, Small was not expected to report back for training last Monday (July 5) and was absent from the club’s first week of pre-season training.
Everton are desperate to tie the left-back down to a long-term professional contract, but he cannot sign it until he turns 17-years-old on August 1.
However, although Everton have reportedly put forward a ‘bumper’ package for him to commit his future to the Merseyside club, they had been hoping to receive the green light from Small prior to former manager Carlo Ancelotti’s exit at the very beginning of June.
It is claimed that Small has been reluctant to sign a new deal at the club because he currently finds himself behind Lucas Digne and Niels Nkounkou in the battle for the left-back berth. But Everton had shown a desire to keep hold of Small, offering him a first-team locker at the training ground, highlighting just how much they think of his talents despite his tender age.
However, they look set to have to fend off interest from Arsenal, Manchester United and Bayern, with all three clubs, according to The Athletic, expressing an interest in his signature.
It is reported that Small was absent from training again yesterday.
It is also claimed that Small recently parted company with his agent and has a new representative dealing with his future.
Small cemented himself into the Toffees’ history books back in January, stepping off the bench to become the club’s youngest ever player at the age of 16 years and 176 days against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup fourth round at Goodison Park.
The Toffees ran out 3-0 winners that evening thanks to goals from Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina and Richarlison.
Although there appears to be a lot more to this current saga and twists and turns are likely to occur, Arsenal are certainly big fans of keeping their academy stocked up with exciting talent that have big futures ahead of them.
Small certainly appears to fit that bill, proving it by the fact that he earned his senior debut for Everton at just 16-years-old.
Should Arsenal swoop for him, he could follow the likes of Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga in completing moves to the Emirates Stadium this summer. Tavares has already completed his switch to north London, whereas Anderlecht ace Sambi Lokonga is close to wrapping up his transfer for around £17million.
He is reportedly in London and the deal is ‘99.9 percent complete.’
Source by Football London