Arsenal are closing in on a deal for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Yacine Adli, which will be Unai Emery’s first summer signing.
The Gunners beat out competition from Manchester City, Barcelona and Bayern Munich among others for his signature after Head of Recruitment Sven Mislintat monitored his progress for nearly three months.
The French u18 international hadn’t make a senior appearance for PSG but was highly-rated and tipped for a bright future. Emery’s links to his former club may have been the difference in negotiations and now Arsenal will be looking to develop the teenager to become a first-team player in the coming years.
Adli is an attacking-midfielder with a fantastic eye for goal who is adept at dribbling in tight confines. The 17-year-old, like Manchester City’s Leroy Sane, runs with the ball at high speed and can ghost past defenders with ease. He possesses good vision to create chances for his teammates and should slot into the Arsenal side with ease.
His playing style might be reminiscent of a young Mesut Ozil, being capable of scoring and creating goals in games. Comfortable in possession, Adli’s tall frame makes him look out of place in youth football as he towers over his opponents and seems more fleet-footed than any player he comes up against.
Physically, he’s dominant too, able to use his weight to shake off challenges. Adli has an assuredness on the ball and is a quick thinker. He moves the ball fast and doesn’t dwell in possession, all the while being capable of bringing others into play by holding it up.
He’s also happy to collect the ball from deep and drive into the final third to pick out a defence-splitting pass or get a shot away himself.
There’s a chance Arsenal supporters could see Adli in the first-team next season. The Gunners aren’t exactly lacking in attacking-midfielders – Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jack Wilshere, Alex Iwobi – but the 17-year-old does look lightyears ahead of the competition in the youth teams.
Last season, he was elected PSG’s outstanding youth prospect and may need a step-up of opponent to truly develop. Adli reportedly rejected a more lucrative proposal from the Ligue 1 side to join Arsenal’s project as he believed he stood more chance of getting first-team football.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see him named in the squad for domestic cup games initially and perhaps on the bench in the Premier League if he’s impressing in training. With so much creative talent, having a supplier like Adli is only ever a benefit. He isn’t phased receiving the ball while being surrounded by opposing players and has the trickery to get himself out of trouble.
Arsenal beat out a lot of big European clubs to land his signature, so clearly there are others who believe in his potential. He could be given a chance to prove his worth early on. The Gunners are very top-heavy and perhaps in greater need of players of substance, but clearly Arsenal couldn’t pass on the opportunity to land a potential future star.