By Richard Clarke
In a few short months, Anthony Stokes has gone from playing in the midfield of Arsenal's Reserves to the being the top scorer in the Scottish Premier League.
Given the transformation it is no surprise that high-profile clubs are interested in the 18-year-old Irishman. But, contrary to newspaper reports, there has been no bid.
Stokes is on-loan at Falkirk until the end of the year. In his 14 games so far he has hit 13 goals, won back-to-back young player awards and, in the process, helped John Hughes' side to the Scottish League Cup Semi-Final.
As a consequence, champions Celtic are reported to have tabled an offer for Stokes. Speaking ahead of the game at Wigan, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger refuted that.
"There is no truth about that at the moment," he said. "We believed in this player's potential when he came here and it is no surprise that he attracts interest. He is gifted physically and technically also he has that typical Irish desire.
"He was a boy who was very, very promising when he came here so early. I remember when I saw this boy in training with us at 15. He was unbelievably strong.
"He stood still a little bit after that but now he has developed some more. Taking such a big step forward in the Scottish League is a little bit surprising but he always had that scoring streak when he was young. When you can score at that age it always comes back even if you can lose it at 17."
Out of interest, the Falkirk player roster includes three more Irishmen who rose through the ranks at Arsenal: Patrick Cregg, Stephen O'Donnell and Graham Barrett.
Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 13 Dec 2006