The arrival of Sven Mislintat as Arsenal chief scout was a key part in the club’s new plan to thrive in an era of astronomical transfer fees. The summer arrivals of Bernd Leno and Sokratis followed the capture of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and heralded an era in which the Gunners will have an inside track on the talent emerging from the Bundesliga.
But who might be next off the German production line? We take a look at the top talent from the Bundesliga that might well be on Mislintat’s radar…
Santiago Ascacibar, VfB Stuttgart
Most Premier League clubs dream of finding the ‘next N’Golo Kante’ – an all-action midfield general who can help teams to dominate games. It’s certainly a position that the Gunners have never really sewn up in recent years.
Stuttgart’s Santiago Ascacibar is one of the Bundesliga’s brightest young stars and might well fit the bill. The Argentinian 21-year-old patrolled the base of Stuttgart’s midfield last season after checking in from Estudiantes and helped his team to have an enviable defensive record, with only runaway champions Bayern Munich conceding fewer than the 36 that Die Roten let in.
Sporting director Michael Reschke heaped praise on Ascacibar, who earned a contract extension for his debut season endeavours. He said: “He’s like a machine that knits everything together out on the pitch. He wins an unbelievable amount of challenges and is a very tidy forward passer.”
Sounds like just the sort of player who would thrive in a Premier League engine room and cut out the amount of shots raining in on the Gunners’ goal to tighten up the defence.
Denis Zakaria, Borussia Monchengladbach
If it’s the midfield engine room that Emery wants to strengthen then Denis Zakaria might be another young Bundesliga talent to keep on eye on. The Switzerland international will be well known to fellow Gunners Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner and was in the World Cup squad with them both in Russia this summer.
Zakaria checked in with The Foals from Young Boys last summer and earned plaudits for his displays with Gladbach, despite his side’s mixed campaign. Described by Deutsche Welle as being ‘physically imposing and smart recycler of possession’, he perhaps needs to learn to keep his aggression in check, having picked up ten bookings last time out. If Emery wants a beef up his midfield, Zakaria could well be a strong choice.
Dayot Upamecano, RB Leipzig
RB Leipzig’s 19-year-old French defender Dayot Upamecano is surely destined for big things. A member of his country’s U
His performances last season – in which he demonstrated his pace, skill and composure – saw him shortlisted for the Golden Boy Award and reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Barcelona as the potential long-term heir to Gerard Pique.
Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund
Jadon Sancho could well turn out to be ‘the one that got away’ for Manchester City. He was signed up to join the ranks at the Etihad aged just 14, checking in from Watford, but got snapped up by Borussia Dortmund before breaking into the first team set up at City. There are high hopes for Sancho, not least among bosses at the FA after he was capped at under-16, under-17 and under-19 levels.
This already looks to be a big season for Sancho – and he’s had a great start as Lucien Favre’s men have shown the signs of being able to mount a title challenge. That form has, of course, propelled him into Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
Sancho would certainly now command a big fee, but the prospect of a move back to his native London – coupled with Mislintat’s influence – might make Arsenal a favourable destination for him.
Leon Bailey, Bayer Leverkusen
The only young Bundesliga star to potentially attract more hype than Sancho is Leon Bailey. The explosive Jamaican winger enjoyed a sensational season at Bayer Leverkusen, with 12 goals and six assists to his name as Heiko Herrlich’s men agonisingly missed out on Champions League football on goal difference. His performances are one of the reasons why Leverkusen were third favourites for the league with bookies before the season, behind Bayern and Dortmund.
He was one of a long list of players linked with a move to the Emirates this summer (a very long list) and might well be attracting Mislintat and his scouts over the coming weeks.