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Arsenal need young Paraguay striker to save their faltering campaign

| 16.12.2013

Floundering Premier League leaders Arsenal look to have beaten Roma to the signature of 17-year-old Barcelona rebel Toni Sanabria.

The top flight pacesetters were soundly beaten 6-3 at title favourites Manchester City to cap a miserable week, with Napoli also getting the better of Arsene Wenger’s side in the Champions League and Everton denying the Gunners all three points with a late leveller at the Emirates.

However, their pursuit of Sanabria looks to have borne fruit after the player’s agent revealed that talks with the north Londoners were at an advanced stage and a deal could be announced within the next week.

The 5ft 11in forward – who has struck twice for Barcelona B in the Segunda Division this term – was thought to favour a move to the Italian capital, but now it seems Arsenal have stolen a march on their Serie A rivals.

At just 17-years-old, Sanabria would normally be expected to serve an apprenticeship in the Gunners’ youth set-up, as fellow Barca-turned-Arsenal starlets  Fran Merida, Hector Bellerin, Jon Tora and Cesc Fabregas have done.

That may still be the case, but Wenger’s need for fresh impetus in his flailing forward line may force the San Lorenzo native into senior action ahead of schedule.

Arsenal’s first choice frontman Olivier Giroud bagged a brace against Southampton at the end of November, but that match stands alone as the only occasion the Frenchman has graced with goals in his last 10 appearances.

Theo Walcott’s double against City in his first start since September will have been welcomed by his manager, but Wenger sees the England flyer primarily as a winger and the 24-year-old is unlikely to get his wish for more responsibility through the middle any time soon.

With the cavalry once again consisting of Nicklas Bendtner – who scored his first Arsenal goal since March 2011 against Hull recently – and little else at the Etihad, Wenger must decide whether Sanabria is ready for Premier League prime-time or prepare to spend big again after Christmas.