I’ll be honest, I was struggling to find a player linked with Arsenal in the past week to cover in today’s Scout Report.
While sifting through the internet, I spotted a rumour that caught my eye because of how good the player is and how unlikely it is to happened.
Marco Asensio to join Arsenal from Real Madrid.
Reports in the press have stated that Arsenal have a genuine interest in the Spanish starlet, which has prompted him to demand talks regarding his future at the Bernabeu.
If you haven’t heard of Asensio, you probably should have by now, but if not, I am going to run the rule over the 21-year-old for you.
Let me start by saying that I am a massive fan of the attacking midfielder. Bar Kylian Mbappe, I think he is the best young player in the world right now.
Any player who scores on every debut in domestic competitions for Real and forces James Rodriguez to look for game time elsewhere is obviously one with a lot of quality.
Asensio started his career at Mallorca and attracted interest from Real and Barcelona before even making his first-team debut in 2013, playing 20 games and scoring once in the Spanish Segunda Division during his first season.
Midway through his second season in the senior side, Real Madrid made their move, paying just over £3 million for his services and signing him to a whopping six-year deal.
He remained at Mallorca on loan for the rest of the season and finished with an impressive six goals and eight assists in 36 league games in the Spanish second tier.
Despite a full pre-season with new club Real, it was decided that Asensio would once again move on loan, joining Espanyol for 2015/16 season.
He shone once again but this time in La Liga, netting four times and picking up 15 assists in 37 appearances across all competitions.
The 2016/17 saw the 21-year-old get his chance in the Los Blancos first-team but in an unfamiliar position. Zinedine Zidane used Asensio in a variety of roles, including as a deep lying midfielder and in his usual attacking midfield role, but it was from the left-wing where most his minutes and contribution came from.
Playing 38 games in all competitions, the young Spaniard chipped in with 10 goals and four assists as Real Madrid won both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, scoring vital goals in Europe’s elite club competition against Bayern Munich and Juventus in the final.
That kind of contribution, at one of the biggest clubs in the world at such a young age, is proof of his quality.
He’s even started this season on fire, scoring a brilliant goal against Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.
So what would Marco Asensio bring to Arsenal?
With quick feet and an electric turn of the pace, the 21-year-old is a player who can change a game in the blink of an eye.
A superb dribbler who can beat a player with ease – successfully completing 55% of his take-ons in La Liga last campaign – Asensio is also a great passer of the ball and rarely shows the naivety some young players do in the final third as they try to make a name for themselves by taking on one man too many.
This is backed up by his 89% pass completion last season, a very high number for both a young player and an attacking player.
He created 23 chances and played 21 key passes in 23 La Liga games last term which are low numbers, granted, but this could be largely in part to playing with world-class players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema who can create chances for themselves.
Asensio also possesses a powerful and accurate strike, with 65% of his shots being on target, while also scoring brilliant goals for both Real and Spain – with whom he won the Silver Ball and was named in the team of the tournament at the Under 21 European Championships this summer.
In terms of his role with The Gunners, the 21-year-old would be the replacement for Mesut Ozil, either in the long-term or if the German decides to depart next summer.
Asensio’s skill and creative talents would make him the perfect successor to Ozil, and maybe even bring an element that the Arsenal midfielder has yet to show.
Scoring in two cup finals and in big Champions League games, the Spaniard has proven that even at a young age he can more than handle the pressure of a big game and produce when required. He thrives against big teams, something Ozil is yet to do at The Emirates.
Playing in the role just behind the striker in Arsenal 3-4-2-1 system would also suit Asensio perfectly. With his pace, vision, dribbling, and eye for goal, he has everything required to be a devastating player in that position.
However, here is the issue.
The £70 million release clause in Asensio’s Real Madrid contract is a hefty one, but I would certainly be happy if the club paid it to get him, although I’m not convinced Arsene Wenger would be.
I can easily understand why the attacker wants to hold talks with the Bernabeu hierarchy after Arsenal’s reported interest as unbelievably, he is still on a youth contract at Real.
If he does get a new deal, which I think he will, don’t be surprised to see his wages and release clause sky rocket.
I also believe that he will stay at Real for the majority, if not the rest of his career. He loves the club and the club loves him. He is already making a huge impact at 21 for one of the biggest clubs in the world. He’s playing under his idol, Zinedine Zidane. Why would he want to leave?
For me, it would be a dream if Asensio moved to Arsenal because I think he will one day be a Balon d’Or contender, but I’m not holding out much hope of this deal happening.
Weirder things have happened though.