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Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Wenger eyes Georgian wonder-kid
Arsene Wenger
Wenger is looking to add a young defender to his squad
Georgian international defender Zurab Khizanishvili is the latest wonderkid to attract the attention of Arsene Wenger.

Wenger's ability to unearth the best young football talent is undoubted, and the Arsenal boss believes Khizanishvili has tremendous potential.

Khizanishvili said: "Arsenal contacted Lokomotiv last week. I heard that Arsene Wenger watched the Italy v Georgia game in Ancona and then invited me to come to England.

"This is a great honour for me. I have already signed a two-year contract with agent Athole Still and will only decide on my future after consulting him," he was quoted on website onefootball.com.

Reputation

Khizanishvili, whose father Nodar played for USSR and helped Dinamo Tblisi to the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1981, has quickly built a reputation as a strong and composed player.

He has already spent a week on trial at Lecce but, if Wenger is impressed, the Londoners will be favourites to strike a deal with London-based agent Still.

Arsenal signed Latvian centre-half Igors Stepanovs last month but have been looking for another young defender all season with Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Lee Dixon and Oleg Luzhny all in their 30s.

Georgian coach Johan Boskampf called Khizanishvili into the national squad at the age of 17.

He has quickly become one of the hottest properties in the eastern European country and could follow Georgi Kinkladze, Temuri Ketsbaia and Rati Aleksidze to England.

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