Arsenal’s teenage midfielder Aaron Ramsey is a younger version of team-mate Cesc Fabregas, according to Wales Under-21 manager Brian Flynn.
The Welsh youngsters including Ramsey will face England in a two-leg play-off for a place at the UEFA Under-21 European Championships, with the first match to be played at Cardiff’s Ninian Park on Friday.
Flynn, as John Toshack’s right-hand man, will be involved in both matches but he is confident his youngsters can spring a surprise against their more illustrious neighbours.
And in the 17-year-old Ramsey he believes Wales have a talent who will be treasured by the nation for years to come. The former Cardiff player moved to the Emirates in the summer and many feel he could be the natural replacement for Ryan Giggs in terms of star quality.
“I’ve been watching Aaron since he was 14. He can be anything he wants to be in the game,” said Flynn.
“At this stage, this age, he is as good as Cesc Fabregas. I see him as a top-six Premier League player and a top international player anywhere in Europe. He is quite something, and I can compare him to one of the best youngsters in the world in Fabregas.
“He is very close to being a senior international but we want him to help the under-21s first. He even speaks Welsh, he ticks all the boxes.”
Flynn accepts the teenager still has a lot to learn but is delighted he will do so under the studious gaze of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose ability for spotting and nurturing talent is unsurpassed.
“He can be a major influence for us. He always has time on the ball,” he said.
“He has a combination of a lot of things for a midfield player. He has fantastic energy and is always positive. He can shoot, pass and create. He needs to get into the box more, but he’s just 17. It will all come.
“I play him in front of a midfield four; Arsenal will find out his best position and he is at a great club to progress from.”
Former Wrexham and Swansea boss Flynn – who was a young star himself with Burnley and Leeds – added of Ramsey: “He could have gone to Manchester United, and he was very impressed with David Moyes at Everton.
“He had a great choice but he has chosen well. Arsene Wenger will look after him well there.
“He is in a good group of youngsters there and Wenger has a track record of producing huge talents. Ramsey will be a star at Arsenal.”