Scouting Arsenal Transfer Target Michy Batshuayi
There is no doubt that Arsenal need reinforcements in January, and there is equally little doubt that Arsene Wenger is willing to take a chance on a young player with enormous potential.
Such are the justifications for the rumor that Standard Liege's 20-year-old wunderkind, Michy Batshuayi, is headed to the Emirates Stadium in the near future, per Alan Wilson of the Mirror. His signing would perhaps not fill Arsenal's most glaring need—striker—but could help them in the long term.
A few weeks ago, I said that his transfer was unlikely, but it is still worth taking a look at the Belgian to see just what sort of player he is.
Batshuayi's biggest flaw is in his personal history.
Michael Yokhin wrote for ESPN FC a few weeks ago that Batshuayi was dismissed from Anderlecht's youth academy for causing trouble and not taking training sessions seriously. All sorts of creative punishments did not work, and the youngster moved to Standard Liege.
Yokhin reported that Batshuayi was thrown off Belgium's Under-21 team for inviting girls to his room while the team was preparing for a major tournament and sometimes loses his concentration on the pitch.
But if anyone can tame a feisty young talent, it would be Arsene Wenger. He purchased Robin van Persie for peanuts in 2004 and turned a kid whose behavior caused Feyenoord to sell him into one of the best strikers in the world.
Batshuayi has been on fire this season, which is why his name has cropped up in so many transfer rumor stories lately.
At the age of 20, he has scored 14 goals in 21 appearances for Standard Liege in the Belgian Pro League, according to the club's official website.
At the age of 18, he was given 33 starts in all competitions, according to Wikipedia. The next year, he received 36. He scored a total of 21 goals in those two seasons.
Batshuayi is already up to 36 matches this year and is an integral part of Standard Liege's squad. Only a massive talent is rewarded with such game time at such a young age.
Batshuayi has already shown that he is a very versatile player with an immense amount of raw talent. He will obviously have to hone his skills to succeed in a much more physically demanding division like the Premier League, but one cannot teach physical talent.
The Belgian has it and uses it to great effect. His pace can take him past defenders in just a few strides, but more importantly, he shows evidence that he can do something productive with the ball after he receives it.
Fourteen goals in 21 Belgian Pro League matches indicates a natural ability to perform in front of goal, which will benefit Batshuayi regardless of where he ends up playing when he makes it to the next level.
That will probably be as a winger, as he has too much pace and not quite enough skill with the pass to be a central midfielder and lacks the large frame of a lone striker.
Likelihood of a Transfer
Arsene Wenger and Arsenal's network of scouts are always on the lookout for the next big talent, and if Batshuayi is available at the right price there, is no reason why the club won't make a deal.
But, as Wenger always reminds fans around this time of year, clubs are very reluctant to sell their best players in the middle of the season. Batshuayi has been absolutely vital to Standard Liege's one-loss run this season, so it will take an inordinate sum to pry him away when the Belgian side is leading a tight race for the league title.
Kristof Terreur, a respected Belgian journalist, reported earlier this month that Standard Liege's sporting director has declared Batshuayi off the market for the remainder of the season:
So, while Arsenal might well be interested in Batshuayi and might eventually purchase him if Standard cooperate, don't expect anything to happen next month.