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˜Ukrainian Messi' Konoplyanka chased by United, Chelsea and Arsenal

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Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have emerged as front-runners in the race to sign Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk midfielder Yevhen Konoplyanka. The midfielder’s immense skill, vision and agility have been noted by critics who have dubbed the 22 year-old as the ‘Ukrainian Lionel Messi’. The youngster’s form and talent have prompted his inclusion in Ukraine’s squad for Euro 2012.

The attacking midfielder was born in Kirovohrad and began his career at the local youth team. Scouts from Dnipro noticed the midfielder and took him to the Dnipro Arena at the age of 17. He made his Ukrainian Premier League debut shortly thereafter in August 2007. His talent was duly noted as he played for his country at the Under-19 level. Meanwhile, he continued to grow at Dnipro where he became a first team regular, scoring four goals in the 2009-10 season. In his last season at Dnipro, the versatile playmaker scored 9 goals in 32 games for the club, and also made several impressive performances for the national team in the run-up to the Euros.

Manchester United have been linked with several transfer prospects this season, as Sir Alex Ferguson is determined to ensure that his side does not suffer due to injuries as they did last season. Chelsea have been granted a significant financial boost following their dramatic Champions League triumph, and owner Roman Abramovich is inclined to add more talented youngsters to his squad. Lille’s Eden Hazard is also on his way to Stamford Bridge according to reports and Abramovich will be keen on finding talented partners for the Belgian. Arsenal, on the other hand, are desperate to make big signings this season, in a bid to convince star striker Robin van Persie to stay and fight for top laurels at the Emirates.

Dnipro’s billionaire owner though has a reputation for rewarding his key players regularly and will not want to let the midfielder leave. Ukraine have a rich footballing culture as only two of the players in the 23-man squad ply their trade outside the country. However, the footballer is keen on playing for top European clubs, and his performance in the Euros could significantly drive up his asking price.