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Gunners, gangsters and the Pope! Why everyone wants a piece of Angel Correa

When it comes to Angel Correa, those Gooners nervous about another round of Arsenal dithering threatening the deal shouldn't be so quick to criticise.

Yes, comparisons with Sergio Aguero are justified for Correa. And yes, at 19 the San Lorenzo striker has Europe's biggest clubs chasing his signature.

But in this case, Arsene Wenger's infamous hesitancy is warranted.

If Premier League authorities thought Carlos Tevez's move from Corinthians to West Ham United was complicated, then they ain't seen nothing yet.

Correa's registration is under examination in Rosario as part of a wider police investigation into local drug trafficking. It's claimed part of the striker's contract, which is not fully owned by San Lorenzo, is being used to launder money.

Correa himself is also under investigation for alleged links to the group involved, Los Monos, after telephone calls were intercepted in which both he and his agent were heard apparently speaking with the gang's leader, reports Clarin. A conversation between the pair was published in the local press last month

Despite the controversy, clubs continue to pursue Correa's signing, with Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes eager to represent his interests in Europe.

Wenger remains a fan, as does Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini. However, while they hesitate, Atletico Madrid have made a firm approach about taking Correa to Spain this summer.

"I am calm, I'm not desperate to leave," insists Correa. "My intention is to play in San Lorenzo and my mind is here. I don't think a lot about leaving."

Atletico president Enrique Cerezo has joked about signing Correa with Argentine reporters, leaning on Pope Francis to cool the speculation.

The Pope is an Atletico fan and Cerezo, when badgered by one reporter about his hopes of clinching terms with San Lorenzo, laughed: "Well, we're Pope Francis' team, so we are not liars ... please do not keep asking me about it.

"We are now focused on this end of the season, not the transfer."

Atletico hope to do business for around €10 million - a bargain according to experts on the Argentine transfer market.

Diego Simeone, Atletico's coach, will be key. A former San Lorenzo manager, Simeone will seek to utilise his contacts with his old club to see off Premier League competition for Correa. It's understood Atletico will also use Mendes to handle negotiations.

While likened to City star Aguero, Correa operates in a deeper role for San Lorenzo and is happier playing off a bigger centre-forward. His strengths are his pace and an exciting dribbling ability. Coaches across Argentina are in awe of Correa's almost unique talent to receive the ball with his back to goal and instantly find a way to attack his marker in possession.

By his own admission, Correa can be unpredictable.

"I do not always know what will happen. But it's the same in the minds of the other players, if you have a fear of losing the ball then you're not much use.

"I've always had this dribbling ability, from very young, and I always like facing the goal. I'll always keep playing this way, but I will also lose the ball once or twice during the game."

San Lorenzo coach Edgardo Bauza is demanding more from goals from Correa.

"I'm a player who has scored a lot, but now Bauza is asking me for more. He is playing me further forward so I can have more chances to score. It's something new for me, but it's a nice challenge."

For the moment, Correa's future is tied to San Lorenzo. Arsenal, City and Atletico have all been in contact, but nothing will be agreed until that vital 30 per cent of the player's contract is settled.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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