Arsenal youngster Charlie Patino has become the subject of an international tussle as Spain attempt to persuade him to switch allegiance away from England.
Highly-rated Patino, whose rise through the youth ranks has already drawn comparisons with Jack Wilshere, signed his first professional contract with Arsenal in October 2020 when he turned 17.
He is now expected to pen a new deal with the club next month, which will secure his longer-term future amid interest from Barcelona.
Despite representing England at multiple junior levels since 2018, Patino’s international future is much less certain because of his eligibility for Spain. He was born in Watford, yet his Spanish father means he also qualifies for La Furia Roja.
Patino’s father hails from Galicia and Cadena SER writes that the player is ‘marked in red’ by the country’s national team setup. Their efforts to convince him to turn his back on England and choose to represent Spain are said to have begun several months ago.
Even with his Arsenal future seemingly secure, Barcelona scouts continue to keep a close eye on Patino and have attended several of his recent games.
Having seen other high profile young talents go on to switch international allegiance in recent years, England will be keen not to lose a potential star in the making like Patino.
Only last year, Yunus Musah, who was also a product of the Arsenal academy, opted to represent the United States. The midfielder was born in New York but had been raised in London since the age of nine and played for England’s Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 teams.
Earlier this year, the Three Lions also lost the battle for Jamal Musiala. He was another who spent most of his childhood in London and regularly represented the Three Lions at junior level, before switching allegiance back to Germany,