Arsenal sign four-year-old dubbed ‘little Lionel Messi’ after seeing Instagram skill video

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Arsenal have signed five-year-old Instagram sensation Zayn Ali Salman to their pre-academy. The youngster has been dubbed as ‘little Lionel Messi’ due to the incredible skills displayed in his social media videos.

Salman became the youngest player in history to sign for the Gunners when he joined the club as a four-year-old, but he has since turned five.

Arsenal snapped up the player after he impressed during sessions with the First Touch Football Academy.

“We put him obviously with his age range, with the four, five, six-year-olds and already he was just head and shoulders ahead of everyone,” academy coach Austin Schofield told BBC News.

“Just a lot quicker than them and a lot more willing to go and get the ball.

“The way he kicks the ball, the way he passes the ball was so much better than everyone else.

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“So then we progressed him on. I spoke to his dad and he wanted to try him with the older ones. So I thought, ‘why not, see how he gets on.’”

Arsenal scout Stephen Deans soon witnessed the youngster in action and admits he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, before persuading club chiefs to sign him up.

“This kid is doing something that he shouldn’t be doing,” said Deans. “The way he’s striking the ball – it just looked too sharp for someone that age.

“So I called my friend and he said: ‘Look, he’s four.’ And I said: ‘No way, he’s not. He cannot be in nursery. I need to speak to his parents.’

“And from there, now we’re here. [We] brought him into a few of our sessions as well and he’s actually been doing it in real time – so it wasn’t a one-off. He’s been doing it consistently.”

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The future Messi has a whole host of videos on his Instagram page, which showcase just how good he is.

The youngster, who has now apparently had offers to join other clubs, can be seen dribbling past defender after defender and thumping the ball into the back of the net as he comes up against players much older than he is.

And it appears he is already friends with a string of Premier League stars due to his recent fame.

On Wednesday night, he was apparently invited to watch Manchester United’s Champions League clash with Atalanta by Jadon Sancho.

The youngster’s Instagram story shows him cheering on Man Utd during the game, before posing for pictures with the former Borussia Dortmund winger, as well as Marcus Rashford.

“I realised the moment he was born,” admitted the youngster’s father.

“I remember the nurse put him on his stomach and he literally lifted his head up and started looking around. Even she was shocked.

“You could tell he was very strong from a very young age. And yeah that kind of set the tone for his upbringing.

“You could kind of see that he was different from all the other kids.”

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