21 June 2014

£8m for Aurier? The rumors pick up steam...

Using the infamously loaded phrase "agreed personal terms," ITV reports that we now just need to finalize a fee with Toulouse to land the Ivorian right-back.  The terse, 54-word report offers enticing news that we're at last looking to stem the tide of players leaving and begin reloading for next season. With Sagna gone to Man City, of course, our need for an experienced right-back intensified. Carl Jenkinson may be a bit older than Aurier, but Aurier is the more-accomplished, complete player. To be able to bring him in at £8m would be a bit of a coup. For comparison, we brought in Nacho Monreal for a similar fee. While this may not be the kind of news Ivoirian manager Sabri Lamouchi cares to hear in the middle of Côte d'Ivoire's World Cup campaign, they do sit comfortably in Group C with a match on Tuesday against Greece. So be it.

As we know, Aurier is one of those who has posted pics of himself in an Arsenal kit already and has professed his admiration for the club in the past. Whether this amounts to gamesmanship or something deeper is for others to suss out. I've written previously of his achievements for Toulouse for whom he's delivered some impressive achievements, good enough to receive the fourth-highest rating from whoscored.com this season. Part of that reflects the time he spent playing midfield, which allowed him more chances to score and so on, but his performance thus far in the World Cup lend further credence to his abilities.

Against Japan, he earned a MotM designation, thanks in part to assisting both of Côte d'Ivoire's goals on nifty crosses, with  but he also turned in six interceptions, three tackles, and three clearances. He was in similar form against Colombia although he didn't quite get the assists. He did get the highest rating in the squad, chipping in with five successful dribbles, three tackles, two interceptions, and three clearances, although his crossing was a bit more optimistic albeit less effective—11 sent in, just one accurately. Still, his crossing is secondary to his defending; if he can defend well, I'd be willing to overlook the careless crossing. That can be worked on: "hey, Serge, um, don't cross so much. Play short passes for the time being" and so on.

He's a strong, versatile player who's shown that he can play center-back, right-back, and defensive midfield in Toulouse's 3-5-2 and in Côte d'Ivoire's 4-2-3-1. That kind of versatility and dynamism may not automatically elevate us to title-contenders, but should the deal actually go through, our back-line looks like it could carry on without missing a beat despite Sagna's departure. Now, if we can just sign a striker...

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