Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has secured the signing of another promising FC Barcelona youngster. According to The Daily Mirror, Wenger has sealed a deal for 16-year-old centre-back Julio Pleguezuelo.
The highly rated young stopper was also coveted by Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City. The move reaffirms Wenger's commitment to targeting youthful potential.
It also continues the Frenchman's track record of raiding Barcelona's famous academy. His most notable capture was of course former Gunners captain Cesc Fabregas.
Signed for a minimal fee, Fabregas developed into one of the finest creative midfielders in the game under Wenger's tutelage. While it did not take long for Fabregas to establish himself in the first team, not all of Wenger's raids on Barca have yielded success.
Fran Merida was another central schemer who was highly touted. Despite scoring a goal in a 2-0 English Premier League victory over Bolton Wanderers in January, 2010, Merida never made the grade.
The same is true for competent defender Ignasi Miquel. He has seen only brief first-team action in three seasons at the club. Miquel was a member of the Barcelona academy for five years, but the 20-year-old is still far down the pecking order in North London.
Wenger will hope that Pleguezuelo can quickly overtake Miquel and become part of Arsenal's centre-back rotation. He will join up with recent Barca academy defectors Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin.
Toral has yet to showcase his full potential, due to injuries. Bellerin, however, has a real chance to emerge as a star. The cultured full-back has been impressive this year and perfectly fits Arsenal' style of play.
Barcelona are likely to be incensed that Wenger has plundered their youth ranks for another potential gem. The rules in Spain state that players cannot sign professional terms before the age of 17.
Wenger has ruthlessly exploited this law. Signing Pleguezuelo gives Wenger another body in central defence, following the release of veteran flop Sebastien Squillaci.
There is also some doubt about the future of demoted captain Thomas Vermaelen. That leaves Arsenal with weak depth behind starting pair Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
If Pleguezuelo is good enough to be fast-tracked to the first team, then he would help solve that problem. His capture is the third deal for a promising youngster Wenger has made since the end of the season.
He has already reportedly signed 20-year-old French forward Yaya Sanogo and 15-year-old English playmaker Dan Crowley. That shows Wenger is not wavering in his belief in building through youth.
Even though he is under increasing pressure to spend a rumored £70 million transfer fund, Wenger is still determined to maintain long-term recruitment policies.
His insistence on underpinning the club with youth and potential is admirable. If his keen eye for talent has identified a star in the making in Pleguezuelo, few will care about his age, or how much he cost.