Arsenal are close to completing a move for Barcelona youngster Joel Lopez after fighting off interest fromPremier League rivals Liverpool.

The 15-year-old CadeteA left-back has been at the Catalan giants Dustin Pedroia Jersey since the age of sevenand is described by reports in Spain as a 'mature, attacking full-back who can be used as an offensive weapon'.Lopez is expectedto joinon schoolboy terms before Bobby Doerr Jersey signing a profe sional contract when he turns 16 next March.

Raul Sanllehi, Arsenal's head of football relations who left Barcelona to join the Gunners at the start of the year, is likely to have played a part in persuading Lopez to sign for Arsenal over Liverpool in a deal which will only cost the Gunners training compensation.Previous Arsenal signings from Barcelona's youth ranks include Cesc Fabregas, Hector Bellerin, Fran Merida, Tyler Thornburg Jersey Ignasi Miquel andJon Toral, with several La Masia talents expected to leave this summer as David Price Jersey they see minimalchancesof progre sing into the Barcelona first team.

Former Gunners bo sArsene Wenger famously handed first team opportunites to a number of youngsters during his 22 years at the helm in north London but it remains to be seen how plans to utilise the academy players at his disposal, having given several chances to starletsthroughout his two year spell at PSG.

Per Mertesacker, who has been working as a de facto head of academy before taking up the role officially this summer, will work closely alongside new Martin Perez Jersey head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, who was responsible for scouting and signing 20-year-old Greek defender Brandon Workman Jersey Konstantinos Mavropanos from PAS Giannina in January.A number of academy players have made the grade at Arsenal in recent seasons including Hector Bellerin, Alex Iwobi, Ainsley Maitland Niles and Rei s Nelson, all of whom have gone on to make first team appearances at Emirates Stadium.

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