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Why Arsenal have handed trials to Atletico Nacional starlet Sebastian Perez

A new face will be at Arsenal's London Colney training centre next month.

Agents, working on behalf of Sebastian Perez, have convinced Gunners boss Arsene Wenger to take a closer look at the Atletico Nacional midfielder after an impressive U20 World Cup campaign with Colombia this summer.

Perez, 20, is due at Arsenal for trials in August after impressing Wenger's scouts in Turkey. Those close to the midfielder's camp say a deal is already being discussed and it will be up to Perez to do enough in trials for a contract offer to be tabled.

While he has courted interest from across Europe, Perez is understood to favour the Premier League as a destination, particularly after discussing England with mentor and former Aston Villa star Juan Pablo Angel.

Atletico Nacional will be reluctant to lose their young star, who boasts being his nation's youngest ever title winner. It was only two seasons ago, at 17, that Perez broke into the Atletico first team. And such was the ease of his transition, that he kept his place and helped Atletico to the Apertura title in 2011.

"I was delighted to get such an opportunity early in my career," recalls Perez. "I was determined to take my chance and repay the faith people had shown in me."

The youngster admits he's had to make many sacrifices to succeed at Atletico, where he has been since 12 years of age. Perez has seen many of his former junior teammates fall away and admits it's been difficult at times to focus on his football.

"The first thing is to have clear goals and dreams. I knew I was going to be a footballer. The advice I can give is to have a clear goal, to be very disciplined.

"You have to be prepared for a lot of sacrifice because you sacrifice many things, often you leave your family by going to another city, often you lose friends because you have to get up early or not attend a party.

"Women also catch your eye. So you have to sacrifice many things in order to live properly as a footballer. But this is football."

He continued: "I also lived in a rough neighborhood, on each corner boys smoking, selling things, so it was not easy. I always listened to my grandparents, my uncles, my parents, they taught me to be a good person."

Perez is now regarded as Colombia's brightest midfield talent, though began his career further upfield, "I liked scoring goals", and when first pulling on a national team shirt for the U14s, "I played as a No10", but soon the coaching staff recognised his strengths, "I kept dropping back, to now being an organiser deeper in midfield".

Perez hints at his style of play when discussing the players he admires.

"In European football, I admire Ever Banega, Gago, Busquets, Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Andrea Pirlo," he enthuses to FutbolRed.

"I am excited about playing in Europe. I want to go there and try to make it.

"I am driven by those I grew up with. They had the same dreams as me, but perhaps not the same talent. There's luck involved, but also a lot of discipline. You need that to make the most of the talent you have."

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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