Reports emanating from Spain suggest Arsenal are very close to signing Dalian Yifang winger Yannick Carrasco.
Whether the claims are true or not, it remains to be seen, but the Belgian winger has confirmed that he is in talks with a club about a return to Europe:
“There is now an offer on the table and the negotiations with my agent are progressing well.”
The Gunners were linked with Carrasco in January only for a deal to fall through over the London club’s insistence on an initial loan deal. If Arsenal have indeed revived their interest, what sort of player would manager Unai Emery be getting?
Carrasco’s career up until now has been one full of promise which has failed to fully take off. The Belgian came through the youth ranks at Genk but he never made a first-team appearance for the Jupiler Pro League club.
He moved to Monaco at the age of 16 in July 2010 and made his senior debut for the French club in the second division against Tours. It was a very special first match as he opened the scoring with a free kick, as well as providing an assist in a 4-0 win.
Under the guidance of manager Claudio Ranieri, he played 27 times in the league during his first season helping Monaco gain promotion back to the top flight. Carrasco spent the next two campaigns establishing himself as a first-team player in Ligue One before moving to Atletico Madrid in 2015.
After his €20m switch, he initially made a good impression on strict disciplinarian Diego Simeone, making 43 appearances during his first season in Spain. He even scored in the Champions League final where Atletico lost out to rivals Real on penalties.
The following 2016/17 campaign was Carrasco’s best season to date, he got into double figures, scoring 14 goals in all competitions and providing five assists, playing mostly from the left wing.
Despite his excellent performances, he began to fall out of favour under Simeone the following year, with reports of tension between the manager and the player. After six months being mostly used from the bench, he made a lucrative move to the Chinese Super League, despite links to Manchester United and Tottenham, as well as the Gunners.
At Dalian, Carrasco has performed exceptionally well, scoring 14 goals and contributing 11 assists in just 36 appearances. However, despite his successful time on the pitch, he has struggled to settle off it.
Still only 25 years of age, the Belgian international is keen to return to Europe and show what he can do. A direct runner, who is an excellent dribbler, he is the type of player, manager Unai Emery has been looking for.
Unlike Lille’s Nicolas Pepe, he would be available for a much more affordable price, and would also likely prove an upgrade on another reported target Ryan Fraser. Whether he does actually end up at the Emirates, we shall have to wait and see.