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Is Spanish wonderkid Fran Merida surplus to Arsenal requirements?

There have been a few murmurs in the past week or so about Arsenal selling Spanish starlet Fran Merida because of doubts over his ability.

Personally I think these rumours have emerged through some of the sports hacks colluding to try to create a headline about the 17-year-old playmaker. Let's face it, he has become a prime target after Barcelona won a court case where the judge ruled that Merida should pay his former club 3 million Euros (£2.2 million) in compensation for allegedly breaking a contract to sign professional terms at the Nou Camp.

I sincerely hope I’m correct because Merida is my favourite Arsenal youngster and I think he’s got a bright future. He was one of the players of the tournament at this summer’s Under-17s World Cup where Spain lost in the final to Nigeria.

And it’s obvious that Fran himself wants to stay at Arsenal, given his interview with the official website this week.

“In the last five months we were champions of Europe, and then second in the World Cup,” said Merida of his time with Spain's young guns. “It was a good result, but I still have that thing inside me, after missing a penalty, but I am happy because the whole experience was invaluable.”

Merida was referring to the penalty shoot out in the World Cup final, which Nigeria won 3-0. But he’s not dwelling on it, as he is now on the fringes of the Arsenal first team and has experienced a limited time on the pitch for the Gunners in this year’s Carling Cup campaign...

“It was an excellent experience,” said Fran of his late appearance as a substitute in the 2-0 win over Newcastle. “We see [the first-team] play every week, and when you get to actually mix with them and have the possibility to come on, it’s an honour. I came on just for two or three minutes, but it is still an excellent feeling and I was so happy.

“The boss likes to bring some of us boys through into the first team, and we must work hard in order to prove we are ready for that level.”

For any of you that haven’t seen Merida play, the best player to compare him to is Cesc Fabregas, who is his best friend at the club. Both came through the Barcelona youth system and share the same agent. Both also were prolific goal scorers for the Barca junior teams and Merida must be hoping he can rediscover the same kind of form that Fabregas is now enjoying.

Fran isn’t just the inspiration for Arsenal’s youth and reserve teams, as he also has an incredible engine and when he does lose the ball from time to time, he battles hard to win it back. The one big difference I see between Fran and Cesc is that Merida is much more aggressive in his tackling. That's a trait that I think other Arsenal players would do well to emulate because if you study match statistics, winning tackles is the one area of weakness that Arsene Wenger’s teams appear to have.

With any luck more Gooners will get the chance to make up their own minds about Merida in the Carling Cup tie against Sheffield United at the end of this month.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on October 17, 2007 11:44 AM in News| Players
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Fran Merida is not surplus to requirements, he has incredible talent and he is the heir to Cesc if he ever decides to go when he's in his late twemties and early thirties like Henry, but as we all know, he only left due to marital sex problems...

Posted by: Johnny | October 17, 2007 4:55 PM

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