Arsenal Close In On €8million Defender – How Good is He?

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Looking back at the news headlines over the past couple of months it would seem, with regard to the rumours of Serge Aurier transferring to Arsenal, that nothing is static. In complete role reversals, headlines have changed from “Arsenal eye Serge Aurier transfer from Toulouse as their Bacary Sagna replacement” (Daily Mirror, 19 March 2014) to “Toulouse defender Serge Aurier interested in move to Arsenal” (Sky Sports, 9 April 2014) to “Arsenal transfer news: Serge Aurier lined up as £7m replacement for Bacary Sagna” (The Independent, 13 May 2014).

The Daily Mirror stated that “Arsene Wenger is looking for alternatives at full-back with his fellow Frenchman’s Gunners contract now just weeks from expiring” and that “Arsenal are lining up Toulouse youngster Serge Aurier as a possible replacement for Bacary Sagna.”

In the Sky Sports article Aurier reportedly told Foot Mercato, a French website dedicated to football news, of his aspiration to play in the Premier League and that he would not turn down a move to Arsenal. Aurier is quoted as saying “You cannot refuse Arsenal. You can ask any player if he would play for Arsenal and I think he would respond positively without hesitation. It is certain that Arsenal is a dream.” Although Paris St Germain and Monaco are rumoured to be interested in him Aurier “would prefer to see another championship”. Most recently Goal.com have claimed that the Gunners have opened talks with the Ivorian.

The Independent’s somewhat brief article points out that Arsenal requires a new right-back, particularly in light of Bacary Sagna’s potentially imminent departure due to his refusal to renew his contract. Accordingly sights have now turned to Aurier and preliminary discussions held to strike a deal. Whether that means talks have already been held or are to be held isn’t made clear.

In another twist, Le10sport.com quote Aurier as saying within the past few days “Arsenal, I do not know. It is an honour to have played this season. I will have time to think about all this but for now there is the World Cup.”

If your knowledge of international footballers is as limited as mine, then you too maybe be asking the question “so who is Serge Aurier?” For a start, according to Aurier’s Twitter profile, he makes no bones about proudly declaring himself to be an Arsenal fan, and has apparently been so since boyhood. The 21-year old Ivorian footballer made his professional footballing debut for RC Lens in January 2009 and his league debut for FC Toulouse three years later in January 2012. He earned his first cap for the Ivory Coast back in June 2013.

Although primarily a right back, Aurier is versatile and also plays centre or left back. He’s good both defensively and offensively. This Ligue 1 season he’s scored six goals and collected an equal number of assists. Squawka News shared this impressive stat: only three defenders have more goals across Europe’s top five leagues.

According to Squawka Player Rankings, Aurier grabbed the number one spot of the Toulouse defenders claiming a performance score of 550, a total of 107 points above his nearest teammate in defence. What is equally, if not more impressive is that Aurier came in at third overall for Toulouse and just 21 points off top place. At a cost of £7m and with a proven track record he’s definitely cheap. We’ll all get to see how he performs for the Ivory Coast in the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. However, if Aurier’s light shines too brightly there will be other teams who will be quick off the mark to snap up a bargain.

Many would say that Carl Jenkinson should be given a chance to take over from Sagna especially after scoring his debut goal against Norwich on Saturday. However, Jenkinson has not been able show us what he’s truly capable of, having racked up only 807 minutes in 14 games compared to Aurier’s 2,954 minutes in 33 games. Talk has it, and sometimes talk can be cheap, that Wenger would make them compete for the starting spot. Competition is good, is it not?

So should Arsenal go all out to sign Serge Aurier as Sagna’s replacement? I think so. However, it’s not down to me to decide. All I am saying is take a look at the statistics and come to your own conclusions. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Photo via Aurier official Twitter account

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