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In profile: Reported Arsenal target Bernard

:Headline: In profile: Reported Arsenal target Bernard:
Sports Mole takes a closer look at reported Arsenal transfer target and Brazilian international Bernard.

Arsenal supporters have been salivating at the prospect of having either Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez or Gonzalo Higuain leading their attack next season. Whether such a transfer occurs, only time will tell.

In recent seasons, players such as the above have rarely joined Arsenal, though. In fact, manager Arsene Wenger tends to purchase budding youngsters and turns them into top-class footballers.

Which is why it was no surprise when reports leaked out earlier today suggesting that Brazilian international Bernard was a target of the Frenchman.

The speculation has claimed that the 20-year-old would set the Gunners back a cool £21m. Wenger of the past may have baulked at such a figure, but now with money to spend, the attacking midfielder may be a player who he believes is worth pursuing.

Bernard burst onto the scene in his homeland back in 2010 while on loan from Atletico Mineiro at Democrata-SL. It may have only been second division football, but scoring 14 times from 16 outings as he did is highly impressive at any level.

The next year was spent adapting to life in the Brazilian Serie A with Minerio, where he spent time on either wing and at times even at full-back to ease an injury crisis.

2012 would be his year as he smashed through the glass ceiling to become the Galo's reference point alongside one of his heroes Ronaldinho. Much of the credit has gone to the former Barcelona and AC Milan star for helping Bernard to come out of his shell on the football pitch. Last year he netted 15 goals in all competitions, having linked up dangerously with Ronaldinho and ex-Manchester City striker Jo.

At just 5'4", many would expect Bernard to be outmuscled easily. However, in a similar way to his compatriot Oscar at Chelsea, he is able to keep hold of possession with a combination of quick body movement and awareness.

All of which grabbed the attention of Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who called him up for the recent Confederations Cup. He was largely used as a substitute, but his performances from the bench received high praise.

Against Uruguay he replaced Hulk in the 64th minute and his introduction swung the match back in Brazil's favour. He played primarily on the right side of midfield and caused numerous problems to the Uruguayan rearguard, as well as ending the contest with a pass success rate of 94%. His presence appeared to galvanise his teammates.

Wenger has denied any interest in the Belo Horizonte-born player, but there can be no arguing that he would be a useful addition to the Arsenal squad. He would slot in on the left-hand side of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, perhaps behind a world-class lone striker. Watch this space.

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