Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks set to step up his interest in Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar after the World Cup.
The Gunners have been linked with a move for the South African star since the beginning of the year, and Wenger has declared his admiration for the Everton winger.
“Pienaar has grown this year. He was usually a very busy player where the final ball was missing a little bit, but this year he has gained in personality and he has kept his work-rate, so he has been much more efficient.
“What also played a big role in his growth was that Mikel Arteta was not there for a while and that he had to take the responsibility of being the playmaker of the team.
“He was one of the best players in England this year. He would get into the Arsenal team. I always had an eye on him since he was at Ajax.”
Pienaar is currently at the World Cup with host nation South Africa, and is rumoured to be the interest of a host of clubs in England.
Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Aston Villa have all been linked with the 28-year-old, but Everton manager David Moyes has previously insisted that his man will be going nowhere this summer.
With just one year remaining on his current deal at Goodison Park, Pienaar could leave on a free transfer next summer.
Whilst Moyes may be unwilling to allow his man to leave at any cost, the Everton board may not be so keen to run the risk of a prize asset leaving for nothing.
Arsenal’s interest may depend heavily on the outcome of the Cesc Fabregas transfer saga, as Wenger battles to assemble his midfield for next season.
Pienaar admitted that he was flattered by the Gunners supremo’s words, but played down talk of any switch to the Emirates Stadium outfit.
“It's always flattering that one of the best managers in the world says those kind of things about you,” he said.
“What I need to do is to work week in, week out to keep getting better. I am thankful to Wenger but my aim is still the same: keep improving. As simple as that.”
By Joe Brewincomments