Arsenal and Manchester City have lost out to Juventus in the race to sign Boca Juniors midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur. The Serie A champions have been following the precocious teenager for a couple of years and their hard graft seems to have paid off.
The Italian giants, who are seven points clear at the top of Serie A after comfortably defeating Cagliari 2-0 on Sunday (12 February), have agreed a deal worth around £8m ($10m) for Bentancur, according to talkSPORT, while reports in Italy suggest Max Allegri's side negotiated a first refusal option on the Uruguayan starlet in 2015 when they allowed talismanic forward Carlos Tevez to join Boca. The Bianconeri even tried to prise the talented midfielder away from La Bombonera during those negotiations, but Boca had no interest in losing their coveted youngster just as he was starting to make a name for himself.
Bentancur broke into the Boca first-team two years ago and earned the Revelation of the Year award from newspaper Clarin as he helped his side to the Primera title and Copa Argentina. The 19-year-old, who has been compared to former Boca stars Fernando Gago and Juan Roman Riquelme, is an intelligent footballer skilled in the art of dribbling and blessed with an excellent range of passing.
The news comes as a disappointment to Arsenal and Manchester City, who both need to bolster their central midfield ranks. With the futures of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla uncertain, along with doubts over the rash Granit Xhaka and questionable Frances Coquelin, Arsenal would certainly benefit from fresh blood in their engine room. Arsene Wenger has had to deploy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a deep-lying midfielder in recent games due to a severe lack of options in recent weeks.
Manchester City's midfield is littered with talent but shrouded in uncertainty. Yaya Toure's contract expires at the end of the season, Ilkay Gundogan is currently sidelined with a serious knee injury while Fernando is seemingly not fit for purpose. Pep Guardiola has had to use right-back Pablo Zabaleta as a makeshift central midfielder in recent weeks.
Manchester City may be on the lookout for a new central midfielder but their immediate focus is on their clash with struggling Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Monday night (13 February). Arsenal face a slightly tougher opponent on Wednesday evening; the Gunners travel to the Allianz Arena to face Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League knockout tie.