ARSENAL are reportedly in a transfer battle with rivals Tottenham for Rennes wonderkid Lesley Ugochukwu – dubbed the next Patrick Vieira.
The French midfielder turns 18 today but is already attracting plenty of attention with his performances.
Antonio Conte will want Lesley Ugochukwu to learn from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg if he joins SpursCredit: Reuters
According to L’Equipe, the North London enemies have been taking a keen look at him in recent weeks.
And both teams could look to pounce with summer offers.
Arsenal have Thomas Partey as their main defensive midfielder with Albert Sambi Lokonga – but Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny could both leave this summer.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is Spurs’ main man while Harry Winks, Eric Dier, Rodrigo Bentancur and Oliver Skipp can all play there – Tanguy Ndombele is out on loan.
Borussia Dortmund are also keeping tabs on the progress of Ugochukwu, who is under contract at Roazhon Park until 2024.
Ugochukwu’s best position is in holding midfield and his 6ft 2ins frame and style of play has drawn comparisons to Highbury hero Vieira.
The youngster, born in Rennes on this day in 2004, joined the club’s academy way back in 2012.
He progressed through the ranks and made his senior debut in April 2021 by coming on for Steven Nzonzi.
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This season he has made 17 appearances across Ligue 1 and the Europa Conference League.
Most of those have been off the bench, including when he scored his only senior goal in a 5-0 thumping of Saint-Etienne in December.
The teenager missed nearly two months of action this year, though, with an ankle injury.
But he returned to the bench for the second leg against Leicester last week and got 11 minutes on Sunday as Rennes smashed Metz 6-1.
Ugochukwu, who is the nephew of former Rennes and Nigeria centre-back Onyekachi Apam, made his France Under-18s debut last year.
He has seven caps with one goal.
Ugochukwu has drawn comparisons to Gunners legend Patrick VieiraCredit: PA