Arsenal appear to be keeping close tabs on highly-rated defensive midfielder Franck Kessie. The young Ivory Coast international, who recently expressed a desire to play for boyhood idols Manchester United, has caught the eye in Serie A so far this season, after netting four goals in just five appearances for Gian Piero Gasperini's struggling Atalanta.
Such glittering form has seen the 19-year-old inevitably attract admiring glances from around Europe, with the Gunners said to have dispatched scouts to the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia to run the rule over a possible future addition to Arsene Wenger's squad.
Confirming that interest during a short interview with Goal, Kessie's agent said: "They [Arsenal] were here in Italy to watch him. Arsenal are a good team but there are a lot of teams interested in him so they're not the only possible destination."
Kessie, who was on the radar of reigning champions Juventus in the aftermath of an impressive FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign in 2013, initially joined Atalanta from Abidjan-based Stella Club d'Adjame last summer before being immediately loaned to Italian second-tier outfit Cesena.
It was in Romagna where he really began to thrive, earning favourable comparisons with compatriot and four-time African player of the year Yaya Toure during his 37 outings. He also drew attention from the likes of Schalke, Southampton and QPR as the Seahorses finished sixth in Serie B before losing to Spezia in the promotion play-offs.
David Moyes' Sunderland supposedly came close to signing Kessie during the recent summer transfer window, only for work permit issues to scupper any deal. AC Milan and Roma have also been linked with possible moves, and, while the player admits to benefiting from an exposure to a range of different tactical systems in Italy, it appears that he eventually has his heart set on a switch to the Premier League and, more specifically, Manchester United.
"My idols are Yaya Toure andv [Michael] Essien. I was told that I have to work very hard to reach a big level," Kessie told Sky Italia last week, according to ESPN. "Now I want to learn Italian tactics but in the future, I like the Premier League. I'd like to play for Manchester United. I don't know if [Jose] Mourinho will be there, but Manchester United has always been my favourite team."