• Arsenal shelves plans for Joelson Fernandes for now
  • Sporting CP is expected to offer a new deal with a higher release clause to Fernandes
  • Arsenal is focusing on other club personnel matters due to limited budget

Arsenal F.C. may be backtracking on its pursuit of wonderkid Joelson Fernandes, a report said. The Gunners are apparently passing on their plans for the teen, shelving plans of flying to Portugal in the coming days. With this development, Sporting Lisbon can renegotiate a new deal with the 17-year-old sensation.

Fernandes has been attracting attention for his stellar performance. He has started in every league match since the restart and has drawn comparisons to soccer greats like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Quaresma and Nani. This led to reports that his side was in advanced talks with Arsenal.

However, the Gunners have not been spared from the financial impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, club representatives were scheduled to fly to Portugal to meet with Fernandes to close a deal and secure his signature. All those plans have now been shelved, Daily Mail UK reported.

Most believed that it was a deal waiting to get done. Fernandes was dropped from the squad in the club's Saturday night clash with Benfica.

Fernandes owns a release clause worth about $57 million. With Arsenal folding, the Portugal teen is likely to be offered a contract renewal, with his release clause expected to be doubled.

Aside from Arsenal, Barcelona has also expressed interest in signing Fernandes. But like the Gunners, Barca is also dealing with the financial strain brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, Blaugrana is also likely to hold off its pursuit of Fernandes until things get back to normal.

Arsenal has been having trouble trying to retain players in its current mix. The Gunners have found themselves in a bind with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. After a long while, Gunners management finally prepared a deal to keep the Gabon national. The details were reportedly what Aubameyang had been demanding.

But the long wait has backfired on the Gunners, with Aubameyang now making them wait. Ironically, Barcelona is reportedly interested in the 31-year-old's services. This cropped up as a backup plan for Barca in the event that it fails to land its original target, Lautaro Martinez of Inter Milan.

Michael Kostka (R) of Germany U16 challenges Joelson Fernandes (L) of Portugal U16
Michael Kostka (R) of Germany U16 challenges Joelson Fernandes (L) of Portugal U16 Getty Images | Ricardo Nascimento