Arsenal sign Canadian ‘Craig Bellamy’ who turned down Tottenham and Liverpool

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Arsenal have agreed a deal with Ipswich to sign Marcelo Flores after his sister also signed for the club.

Flores, 15, was wanted by Arsenal, Barcelona, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City when he was (even) younger but opted to sign for Ipswich according to his sister, Silvana.

She revealed that she also turned down the chance to sign for Arsenal herself, saying, “After two months of living (in England) I went to a trial with Arsenal, they made me a contract offer, but it was very far away.

“I went to Essex to do another test and after five minutes, when I had only done the warm-up, they offered me a contract and my brother [Marcelo] too.

“He had offers from Barcelona, Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool, but he likes Ipswich and now we live there,” she added.

Now, however, both Marcelo and their younger sister Tatiana, have both signed for the Gunners.

Marcelo Flores is an attacking midfielder with an incredible story about how he ended up playing in England.

His father, Ruben, who played for Atalante, was coaching the Cayman Islands Women’s team and a chance meeting there saw Marcelo end up signing for The Tractor Boys. Their mother, Susan, also played football in Canada.

Ruben told East Anglican Daily Times, how the unlikely transfer of his then-13-year-old son came about.

“Steve Foley came across [to the Cayman Islands] on an Ipswich Town exchange programme.

“He was running a camp and asked if Marcelo wanted to join in.

“Marcelo jumped at the chance and stayed on the camp for the rest of the week.”

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

“He made a big impression but the only way we were going to know if he was as good as he seemed, no disrespect to football in the Cayman Islands and Canada – they’re OK but I thought Marcelo was better – 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’s come here [to Ipswich] with great expectations and has fallen short on one or two occasions and people have questioned him and found fault.

“But that’s good for his make-up, he has overcome obstacles already.”

Marcelo models himself on Lionel Messi and Eden Hazard and it is his aim to become a Premier League star before experiencing football in another country.

“One of my ambitions is to play professionally in the Premier League, but I would also like to play world-wide, in La Liga,” Marcelo said. “Internationally, my favourite is (Lionel) Messi, whilst in the Premier League, I like watching (Eden) Hazard – I try to model my game on them both.”

Flores, who is eligible to play for Canada because of where he was born, and Mexico because of his father, will also be able to play for England by the time he’s old enough to play for the Arsenal first team.

There is no indication yet regarding how much Arsenal have paid Ipswich for Flores but it is believed to be below £1m. Ipswich’s manager, Marcus Evans, is expected to make a statement detailing his frustration at how the academy is weighted towards bigger clubs after losing both Flores to Arsenal and Ben Knight to Manchester City.

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