Published On: Sun, Jan 14th, 2018

Who is Arsenal transfer target Malcom?

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“Take the Victoria Line from Holloway Road and hop off at Euston Station before boarding the train to Manchester Piccadilly. Bon voyage.”

A few quid for transportation and directions for the Tube may very well be Arsene Wenger’s final interaction with sentimental wantaway Alexis Sanchez, and while the Chilean’s exit amounts to yet the latest defeat in the Frenchman’s tumbling tenure, it also provides an opportunity.

That opportunity is to replace the tireless attacker with a younger, forward-thinking option. When one door closes, another opens, and among the players linked with a move to north London, Bordeaux‘s budding Brazilian star, Malcom, stands out.

With reports claiming Malcom’s representatives have flown to the English capital to kick off negotiations with Arsenal, here’s a glance at an impressive young talent poised to take the next step and how he may fit into the club’s plans.

Who: A rightful rise

The 20-year-old Sao Paolo-born No. 7 hasn’t exactly come out of nowhere. First-team emergence with hometown Corinthians prompted a bargain-basement €5-million January move to the port city on the banks of the Garonne. After a capricious debut half-season at Bordeaux, Malcom found his footing during the 2016-17 campaign, pairing seven goals with four assists as Jocelyn Gourvennec’s lot surprised France’s top flight to finish sixth. If Malcom’s first full season was an exercise in consistency, his second has been a statutory claim for future stardom.

As exciting as his displays have been for Bordeaux, perhaps as noteworthy is his disposition.

“You just need to see him every day,” Gourvennec said in September after the winger led Les Girondins to an unlikely unbeaten start in Ligue 1 with a trio of goals in his first six matches. “He is not at all affected by everything that is being said. Even if he is still young, he is also very mature.”

What: Tricky and technical

A frenzied 3-3 draw with Lyon in mid-September was Malcom’s coming-out party and a perfect sample of the winger’s skills. Down two goals inside of 25 minutes courtesy of Nabil Fekir‘s looping finish and Kenny Tete‘s fortuitous touch, Malcom cut Les Gones’ lead in half minutes before the interval after he followed up a blocked free-kick with a dipping 30-yard screamer. On the other side of the break, Bertrand Traore and Lukas Lerager exchanged late goals before this happened in the 91st minute:

An inverted winger who fancies a thumping strike from the car park, left-footed Malcom is second only to JuventusPaulo Dybala for goals from outside the box in Europe’s top-five leagues. That skill, paired with a penchant for keeping possession in tight spaces, blinding pace, and a seemingly infinite motor cement Malcom as a wide threat who’s liable to keep defenders on their toes by cutting inside on occasion. It doesn’t hurt that the youngster has converted 82 percent of his passes this season and 70 percent of take-ons.

Where: Go wide, young man

While Sanchez tends to drift out to the left, Malcom prefers the right wing. Under Gourvennec, the 20-year-old has played on the right side of a three-man attack with some combination of Nicolas de Preville, Gaetan Laborde, Alexandre Mendy, and Kamano. What remains to be seen is how Wenger – or the Frenchman’s eventual replacement – would intend to use the player.

In a 3-4-3 formation – one Wenger has opted for this season despite an admittance he prefers other set-ups – Malcom would play on the right side of a front-three in support of Alexandre Lacazette. Should the gaffer select a 4-4-2, Malcom would line up wide right and become an immediate upgrade on Danny Welbeck and an out-of-form Alex Iwobi. There’s also the possibility Malcom could deputise for Lacazette as a No. 9, a role that may require filling should Olivier Giroud leave in the summer.

Sanchez is in the wind, and despite an increasingly negative and toxic attitude surrounding the club, Arsenal’s future could improve strikingly if Malcom is lured to the Emirates this January.

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