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Introducing Adrian: the Arsenal target to follow in Cazorla's footsteps

The Gunners are set to move for the Atletico Madrid star in January and the 24-year-old could prove to be as successful as some of his countrymen have been in north London

PROFILE
Ben Hayward

Following the spectacular success of Santi Cazorla's signing in the summer, Arsenal have now set their sights on another Asturian: Adrian Lopez. And much like the midfielder before him, he could be exactly what they need in January.

Adrian has represented Spain at almost every level since the age of 16 but is 25 in January and can be considered as something of a late bloomer in La Liga. Perhaps his potential remained unfulfilled in a dour Deportivo La Coruna side which eventually suffered relegation in 2010-11.

Adrian had led the line with dignity and diligence for the Galicians, but lacked sufficient support and had never been a prolific goalscorer in any case. The burden, in the end, proved too great, and not even he could save his side from the drop.

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But from the moment he marched through the Barcelona defence to net a stunning solo strike as a substitute at Camp Nou in 2006-07, his potential has been there for all to see.

And after relegation with Deportivo, he played a starring role in Spain's success at the Under-21 European Championship in Denmark last year, linking up intelligently with fellow Asturian and friend Juan Mata and scoring a tournament-high five goals as La Roja recorded yet another victory.

More success came last season following a move to Atletico, where he has been used in a variety of different positions across the front line, behind the main striker (usually Radamel Falcao), up front on his own or even out wide on occasions.

Adrian scored just seven times in La Liga last term, but it was in Europe where he did most damage, netting 12 to become the club's all-time top scorer in a single European season, before he was overtaken by Falcao later in the Europa League, which was won by Diego Simeone's side.

In total, the 24-year-old ended the campaign with 19 goals in 57 appearances - one every three games. That tally represents by far his best contribution over a season, and although he has yet to score in the current campaign as Simeone has chopped and changed, it is his flexibility which will interest Arsenal.

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Outstanding in the air, quick-footed on the ground and an excellent dribbler, Adrian's ability to cut inside, drop deep and link up with others make him an ideal choice to cover a number of forward positions at the Emirates, especially with Theo Walcott's future uncertain and Gervinho off to the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

Adrian scored on his debut for Spain against Serbia just before Euro 2012 but missed the cut ahead of the summer showpiece. "His time," coach Vicente del Bosque said later, however, "will come."

So soon, with Cazorla outstanding so far in 2012-13 and featuring increasingly in his national team, two Asturians could be shining brightly for both Arsenal and Spain.

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