Arsenal keen on Barcelona prospect Sergi Samper

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wants to sign Barcelona midfielder Sergi Samper and the player is considering the move despite Luis Enrique being desperate to keep him.

Wenger faces competition for the 20-year-old, who is under contract until 2017, as Portuguese giants Porto are hoping to take him on loan.

But with his buyout clause set at £8.5million and the player keeping his options open, Wenger has been encouraged.

Samper’s path at Barca is blocked by Sergi Busquets whose place in the centre of midfield is unlikely to be up for grabs anytime soon.

And after Barca B were relegated to the third tier of Spanish football last season, staying in the club’s second string will mean stagnation for the young midfielder.

Wenger had planned to spend big this summer on a holding midfielder but the emergence last season of Francis Coquelin means he can buy potential rather than the finished article.

He tried to sign Samper in 2011 when he brought full back Hector Bellerin to the club and has followed his progress since, watching him make an impressive Champions League debut last season against Apoel in the group stage.

A classic Barca holding midfielder, Samper’s strength is in keeping possession but not at the expense of moving the ball forward purposefully. His touch and weight of pass – honed during 14 years at the club he joined when he was six - are what make him stand out.

After his highly impressive debut in European competition, Samper had hoped to step up to Barca’s first team this season but coach Enrique sees Sergi Roberto as the player best suited to deputise for Busquets. So, Samper finds himself at a career crossroads.

If Wenger takes him it will be seen as another Arsenal steal.

Barcelona-based paper Mundo Deportivo dedicated its front page to the story on Wednesday with the headline: 'Wenger attacks again.'

As well as Bellerin, the Arsenal manager has raided the Nou Camp for Jon Toral in 2011, Fran Merida in 2005, and most famously for Cesc Fabregas in 2003.

Credit: SportsMail