Arsene Wenger is famous for plucking talent out of Ligue 1 and turning them into top Premier League talents. He has a knack for finding players with technical ability, who can add a little craft to his squad.
But his expertise in this area seems to be under threat. In recent years, Alan Pardew has a better track record when it comes to signing Ligue 1 stars. Take, for instance, Moussa Sissoko, or Yohan Cabaye.
These are top class talents who aren’t really comparable to Arsenal signings like Marouane Chamakh and Sebastien Squillaci (yes, he joined from Sevilla, but had spent most of his career in the French League). Even Olivier Giroud, Arsenal’s big, bulky centre-forward looks like he may end up as something of a flop (he’s too slow to fit into the Arsenal system).
But I’d be surprised if Wenger doesn’t dip back into Ligue 1 this summer, to attempt to find a few bargains that would improve his squad.
In particular, Arsene needs to look at his defence. Whilst Arsenal’s last two performances have been much improved, I’m not sure whether Thomas Vermaelen still has what it takes. Then there’s Bacary Sagna, who is getting on in years and has had a variety of injury problems.
This brings me to a recent Sky Sports article, that suggested Arsenal were chasing Marseille’s ace full-back, Nicolas N’koulou. At 22-years-old, he has earned a real reputation. He’s quick down the wings, strong in the tackle and can cross the ball nicely. He’s also not afraid of cutting in and causing trouble in the penalty area.
These qualities have seen him earn an £8m price-tag, a figure that is unlikely to scare off cash-rich Arsenal.
The player himself has been rather more tight-lipped about his future: “It is only paper talk. I like Arsenal as a fan of good football, but it does not mean I will join them. I will be able to talk about my future in the summer. I know the club want to balance their books and think I am an asset for them.”
As he hints, Marseille are a club who need to act with caution in the transfer market. If Arsenal come in with a fair bid for N’koulou, I’m sure Marseille will release him.
And if he does join Arsenal, he’ll fit in nicely, adding further defensive stability to a club that is heading in the right direction.
What’s your take, would you like to see Nicolas N’koulou join up with Arsenal this summer?
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