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Arsenal’s ‘Canadian Craig Bellamy’ has ‘prominent future’ after Arteta call-up

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An Arsenal youngster likened to ex-Liverpool star Craig Bellamy has been described as having 'a very prominent future' after joining Mikel Arteta's first team in training.

Marcelo Flores signed his first professional contract with the Gunners last month after turning 17, having previously been wanted by Barcelona and Manchester City among other clubs.

Born in Canada, Marcelo grew up in Mexico – and was brought to the UK by Ispwich Town after being spotted by development coach Steve Foley playing in the Cayman Islands.

And it was Foley who compared him to Bellamy, the speedy, skilful former Wales forward who played for Newcastle and Manchester City before joining Liverpool.

“He stuck out like a sore thumb, he reminded me of a young Craig Bellamy. I thought ‘Wow, who is this kid?’ said Foley.

“He made a big impression but the only way we were going to know if he was as good as he seemed, was for him to come and train with the Ipswich academy.

“He is quick, naturally fit and hungry for the ball – he doesn’t have to be told to go and get it back."

He joined Arsenal from Ipswich last year – and his father Ruben says big things are expected after he was called up to first-team training sessions.

“(He) will continue to play with the under-18s but he already trains in the first team a couple of times a week when they need him,” said his dad.

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Ruben claims to be a "good friend" of Arsenal's technical director Edu and academy manager Per Mertesacker – and says he has been told that his son is very highly thought of at Arsenal.

“I am a good friend of Per Mertesacker. Also of Edu Gaspar," Ruben told Marca Colombia, cited by Sport Witness.

"When we have free time we go to have a coffee, we play tennis, and then we come to eat at home, or they invite us to theirs.

“Edu invited us to a barbecue a couple of weeks ago.”

He added: “Recently the networks exploded with the professional contract. I thank Arsenal very much for the opportunity and the confidence.

“He is doing very well, but also the support they have given him is impressive. Now there is nothing to worry about. He has a contract.

“Here, he is considered to have a very prominent future with the team, if he continues doing what he has done until now. He only thinks about what happens on the pitch.

“Everything that happens outside does not matter to him. That helps him a lot because he has his feet on the ground.”

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