Arsenal may have shown the first signs of contingency planning for Theo Walcott’s departure to Liverpool if reports that they are to move for Bayer Leverkusen’s Karim Bellarabi are to be believed.
The Metro’s transfer gossip guru Jamie Sanderson relays ‘reports’ that Arsene Wenger has “asked Arsenal officials to get him” and that “a deal is now on the cards”.
But what does the 24-year-old German, who has interested both Chelsea and Liverpool in the past, have to offer the Gunners’ already overcrowded attacking ranks?
Something of a protege of Leverkusen director of football Rudi Voller, Bellarabi is a late bloomer who has come of age in 2014/15, earning an international call up for his nation after scoring the fastest goal in Bundesliga history in a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund.
Once in the Germany squad, he wasted little time impressing coach Joachim Low, who had the following to say:
“For his first game, his commitment was incredible.
“He was incredibly active and involved. I was very happy with him.
“He was always in the game, driving us forward.”
Bellarabi has played at right-midfield, right-forward, number ten and centre-forward for his club this season, excelling at each of those stations, although the second mentioned has been his most common berth.
His efforts have brought him ten goals and two assists in 25 league starts.
The most striking aspect of his game is his dribbling and he tops the Bundesliga statistics for beating opponents with the ball at his feat, completing an average of 5.2 take-ons an outing.
Rather than an array of stepovers, he tends to ghost past players with disarmingly direct running and is capable of carrying the ball vast distances quickly on the counter attack with a long raking stride.
Despite operating from a station on the right-hand side, the 24-year-old is more goalscorer than creator and prefers to drift inside looking to create shooting opportunities for himself rather his teammates.