That doesn’t however mean that if you haven’t made it by 19 then you are never going to play at the very top, some players are slow burners and long term Arsenal target Gary Cahill fits into that category.
Interest in the player has been rumbling for a while and according to our friends in Italy at TuttoMercatoWeb he is now drawing the attention of Harry Redknapp and Tottenham, not bad for a player who was deemed not good enough by Aston Villa.
Cahill joined the Villa academy when he was 15, and he progressed well before he finally made his first appearance in professional football for Burnley with whom he played for on loan during the 04-05 season. Upon returning to Aston Villa he soon appeared for the first team and impressed early on in his career. The defender continued to improve and throughout the 06-07 campaign he began to look a fine prospect.
After another loan spell this time with Sheffield United, he returned to Villa again and continued to make appearances off and on for the club. Unfortunately for the central defender he never really went on to cement himself in the Aston Villa team and was deemed surplus to requirements.
In the January 2008 transfer window there was interest in Cahill from Bolton, Birmingham City and Besiktas. He decided to move to Bolton signing a 3 and a half year deal. The player has come on leaps and bounds since then and has become the rock at the heart of the Wanderers defence, England caps have followed and he is now lauded as one of the best young defenders in the league.
Interest in the player has predominantly come from Arsene Wenger and there were strong rumours that they would move for the player this January, but ultimately this never happened. Now arch-rivals Tottenham have joined the race to sign the 25 year old this Summer.
Arsenal probably have a greater need for the player, their standout performer at the back this season has been Johan Djourou. Laurent Koscielny has not yet got to grips with Premier League football and Sebastien Squillaci has also struggled so far. Arsenal have needed a no nonsense dominant defender for a while and Cahill could fit into their backline extremely well, but by waiting competition for the player has now strengthened.
Tottenham look like they may lose Sebastien Bassong this Summer and they are also looking to strengthen centrally and Harry Redknapp is apparently very impressed with the performances that Cahill has put in this season.
Both clubs have baulked at the £20million price tag that Bolton have put on the players head, and this could be to the advantage of the White Hart Lane club as they may look to offer a money plus player deal, with any of Robbie Keane, Jamie O’Hara and Alan Hutton going the other way. The Irishman Keane could be particularly tempting to Owen Coyle with it looking likely they will lose Johan Elmander this Summer.
In many ways I believe Arsenal need Cahill more than Spurs but I am not sure I fancy their chances of beating their near neighbours if it comes to a bidding war, so this could be an interesting one to watch develop.
For more of my thoughts and developments, follow me on twitter @soccercityjoe is the place!
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