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Iain Macintosh
Monday, Aug 4, 2014

Sports

EPL: Quintero in Arsenal Link

The New Paper | Iain Macintosh | Monday, Aug 4, 2014

Colombian terror: Juan Fernando Quintero has the skills to dazzle for Arsenal.

The seventh Emirates Cup begins today and Arsenal look set to celebrate the only way they know how - by signing yet another tiny attacking midfielder.

Reports yesterday suggested that Colombian Juan Fernando Quintero was flying into London from Portugal to agree terms with Arsene Wenger's increasingly attack-focused Gunners.

Quintero, who gave a series of entertaining cameo performances for Colombia in this summer's World Cup, actually played in last year's Emirates Cup for Porto, bedazzling the crowd with his fleet-footedness.

He certainly has the quality to play for Arsenal. The only question is whether they really need another player in his position.

It could be a sign that Alexis Sanchez, signed from Barcelona last month, is set to play as a striker either with or in place of Olivier Giroud.

And yet the nagging suspicion remains that a defensive midfielder is really what Arsenal need.

Quintero has long carried the reputation of a future star.

Porto, whose scouting network in South America is unparalleled, made their move last summer, but wouldn't have expected to cash in on their investment so quickly.

However, Quintero is the kind of player who instantly catches the eye.

His first act in his World Cup debut against Greece was to attempt to lob the goalkeeper from 40 metres. He is refreshingly nerveless.

The Emirates Cup may also be the first chance for Arsenal supporters to see his Colombian teammate, goalkeeper David Ospina.

The 25-year-old, who enjoyed an impressive World Cup, joined in the summer and will put serious pressure on No. 1 Wojciech Szczesny.

There have been suspicions that the Polish stopper had stagnated after a precocious start to his senior career.

Then the arrival of Ospina will certainly give him cause to redouble his efforts.

To complete a hat-trick of Colombian angles, the tournament may also see the return of Radamel Falcao to the Monaco line-up.

The 28-year-old striker was ruled out of the World Cup with a cruciate injury.

But a frustrating summer has given him the chance to make a full recovery.

There are few strikers in the world more potent than this one although his future remains unclear as rumours suggesting that Monaco's billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev has lost interest in the club.

Having been hit with the most costly divorce settlement in the history of mankind, the Russian owner may see Falcao as a quick way to soothe his losses.

Coach Leonardo Jardim, when pressed on the Colombian's future, stated that Falcao was a Monaco player "for now."

Benfica, who face Arsenal in the opening game tonight, will hope to recover from another chastening end to the season as the curse of former coach Bela Guttman kicked in once again.

In 1962, so the story goes, Guttman approached the board and asked for a pay rise as a reward for his success.

His pleas were ignored, Guttman stormed out and apparently shouted that Benfica would not be European champions again for 100 years.

Since then, they have lost eight European finals, their most recent in May when they lost to Sevilla on penalties.

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus, now in his sixth season at the club, will try once again to overturn the dark magic.

Also at the tournament are Valencia, now owned by Singaporean businessman Peter Lim who took over in May and will now face the challenge of rescuing the Spanish side from their calamitous financial problems. After two seasons outside the top four in La Liga, the problems are mounting quickly.

But for Arsenal, this remains a chance for the supporters who don't usually attend games to see them in action and to give hope that their FA Cup victory last May is a sign of things to come.

And, who knows, perhaps there will be another tiny attacking midfielder in the stands looking on.


This article was first published on August 2, 2014.
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