Arsenal reportedly sent scouts to watch Granit Xhaka’s Bayer Leverkusen team in action at the weekend. The German side, who bought Xhaka from the Gunners last summer for just over £21million, extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga table following a last-gasp 3-2 victory at RB Leipzig. And the north London giants had their eye on four players.
Arsenal got back to winning ways on Saturday afternoon following a miserable run of form over the festive period as they thrashed Crystal Palace 5-0 at the Emirates Stadium. Mikel Arteta’s side had been dumped out of the FA Cup at the hands of Liverpool in their previous encounter after suffering back-to-back Premier League defeats against West Ham and Fulham.
A couple of hours after Arsenal’s clash with Palace had come to an end, Leverkusen began their showdown with Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena. And, according to HITC, Gunners scouts were in Germany to watch Xavi Simons and Lois Openda from the home side and Jeremie Frimpong and Exequiel Palacios from the away team.
Winger Simons gave Leipzig the lead seven minutes into the match, before Nathan Tella equalised for the visitors two minutes into the second half. Striker Openda then netted after 56 minutes to put the hosts ahead once again, before Jonathan Tah drew the visitors level for the second time just after the hour mark. And with the match seemingly heading for a draw, Piero Hincapie popped up with the winner for Leverkusen in stoppage time at the end of the match.
The encounter was also attended by Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool scouts, with the Red Devils travelling to watch several players including Leipzig striker Benjamin Sesko. The main player City had their eye on was Leverkusen attacker Florian Wirtz, while they were also there to track Simons. The Merseysiders, meanwhile, were watching centre-back Hincapie.
There were also scouts from West Ham, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, AC Milan and Napoli at the match, while representatives from the Saudi Pro League were present.
Leverkusen could be set to lose a whole host of players in the summer due to the pulling power of the Premier League. The team have excelled under former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso and are now seven points clear of second-place Bayern Munich after winning 15 of their 18 Bundesliga matches and drawing the other three.
Bayern suffered a shock 1-0 loss at home to Werder Bremen on Sunday as they tasted league defeat for the second time of the campaign. But Thomas Tuchel’s men have a game in hand on Leverkusen and are set to take on Alonso’s side at the BayArena next month.