Arsenal v Barca

Arsenal agree deal for Barca kid

February 22, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

According to reports in Spain, Arsenal have once again plucked a talented midfielder from Barcelona's youth set-up after agreeing a deal with 16-year-old Jon Miquel Toral Harper.

Arsene Wenger is depriving Pep Guardiola of a potential first-team player
GettyImagesArsene Wenger is depriving Pep Guardiola of a potential first-team player

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It is believed that Toral, who currently represents Barca's cadete A side, has agreed to move to London and that Arsenal will pay Barcelona €350,000 in compensation.

The news echoes Arsenal's signing of Cesc Fabregas from the Spanish club in 2003, while Fran Merida and Ignasi Miquel both had spells at La Masia on their CV before moving to North London.

While the imminent signing of Toral has been interpreted in some quarters as souring relations between the two clubs in the build-up to the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, it is believed that is not necessarily the case.

Toral's mother is English and Barca showed little inclination to try and convince the player to stay once it became clear he wanted to end his four-year spell with the club and move to England.

Toral, who has represented Spain at Under-16 level, is described as a strong and technically-gifted midfielder, and he is represented by Barca coach Pep Guardiola's brother, Pere.

It is reported that Arsenal were also hoping to sign 16-year-old Sergi Samper from Barcelona but he decided to remain with the Spanish champions.