The former Dutch U18 international had been playing for Serie B side Novara for the first half of the season, and came to the attention of the Gunners’ scouts. Speaking to Voetbalzone.nl, Da Cruz confirmed he was watched by Arsenal several times.
“Yes, I came on [to] Arsenal’s radar. Several scouts, including the head scout, have seen several matches of mine in recent months. I have been informed that their reports were positive. They were very interested, of course the head scout does not look at just anybody.”
“Was I surprised? Yes, because the Serie B is not Serie A with respect, and a year ago I was on the bench a few times or not even in the selection at [Dutch second division side] FC Dordrecht. If you are then linked to super-large European clubs a year later … It was a surprise.”
Despite being in huge demand from many clubs across Europe, the 21 year old opted to remain in Italy, and made the switch to another Serie B side instead. He finalised his £2m move to Parma on January 8th.
Da Cruz had been available on a free transfer in the summer after leaving Eredivisie club FC Twente. His performances for Novara not only attracted the attention of the Gunners, but also Brighton, Swansea, Southampton and Liverpool too.
In Serie B this season, the striker has scored five goals and provided four assists in 19 games.