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Arsenal are the favourites to sign Malcom in the January transfer window. Alexis Sanchez is due to leave for a yet to be determined club, which is triggering a rare foray into mid-season signing activity for Arsene Wenger.
Malcom is a 20-year-old Brazilian who has taken Ligue 1 by storm. Seven goals and five assists in 17 league starts give an indication of that.
Playing for Bordeaux, who are only four points above the bottom three, he has the sixth-best expected assists per 90 in the division (minimum 800 minutes). That puts him ahead of Angel di Maria, Julian Draxler, Thomas Lemar and Nabil Fekir.
There are few under-21s in the world regarded higher than Malcom right now. Linked with several of the Premier League’s top club, a transfer in this window is edging towards inevitability. It has not been often in the last decade that Arsenal have signed a player who was desired by fellow top six Premier League sides.
Beating rivals to the Brazilian would be a seismic achievement for the Gunners, who are on course to finish outside the top four again.
Malcom, as with any youngster, carries a smidgen of risk. He does, too, have the chance of becoming one of the very best players in the world. A player that you can build a team around, this could be similar to Chelsea signing Eden Hazard ahead of the two Manchester clubs.
Comparisons to Hazard are not a representation of the player as such, but the impact of the signing. Hazard was the marquee name that led the revival of the Blues after their Champions League win. Malcom could be the face of Arsenal in the post-Alexis world.
There is almost more excitement for a club signing a player of this ilk. Alexis and Mesut Ozil arrived at the Emirates Stadium as well-known stars, everyone knew what they were capable of, and what their failings were. Malcom is different. He could be anything.
That risk, if that’s quite the right word for a player of his pedigree, is what Arsenal need. Wenger’s team has been dominated by players who are of little risk, but that’s the problem. You know roughly what you will get from Danny Welbeck or Theo Walcott.
One signing does not signal a league-winning change at Arsenal. Malcom, however good he becomes, will not win trophies all alone.
Beating Premier League peers to a player of Malcom’s calibre, though, is something Arsenal have done infrequently. So infrequently, in fact, that tales of Wenger nearly signing a player have become parodical.
Yes, it could be a false dawn, like Sanchez and Ozil proved to be. There are no guarantees even if Malcom and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are signed, but it would be the most ruthless piece of transfer business by the Arsenal hierarchy in recent memory.
That counts for something, doesn’t it? Well, until they are inactive all summer and sign Jeff Hendrick on a six-month loan.
Written by Sam Cox
Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_
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