The season is over, the transfer window is upon us and Arsenal are inundated with speculation. The Gunners are expected to be among the Premier League's big spenders this summer, and the latest name to be linked with their recruitment drive is Lyon midfielder Clement Grenier.
Grenier's performances have been a key factor in helping "Les Gones" return to the Champions League. Arsene Wenger has a long history of recruiting players from his homeland, so Grenier's eye-catching displays were never likely to escape his attention. The Daily Mail quotes the Gunners boss as telling French programme Telefoot:
We are following him. His intelligence of play pleases me. He has interesting qualities. He reminds me of Nasri.
The player himself was spoken out about his desire to move on, although he's been cryptic about his possible destination. Sky Sports reported Grenier's comments thus:
I have more or less made a decision about which club I want to join. I have made the choice for sporting reasons above all. Arsenal? It could well be them.
There would be competition for places, but you get that at all big clubs and it does not stop me making my decision. I am still young, but I have always set myself targets and I do everything possible to exceed them.
His comments echo the behaviour of Eden Hazard a year ago. Hazard made a series of mysterious allusions to possible future destinations before ultimately deciding on Chelsea. Arsenal will hope that this saga ends with another player leaving Ligue 1 for London.
Some may wonder why Arsene Wenger is looking at Grenier at all. Grenier is an attacking midfielder who usually plays as the most advanced of a midfield trio.
Arsenal's more pressing need is arguably for a holding midfielder. The departure of Alex Song and Abou Diaby's injury woes have left them a little light in this area, with Mikel Arteta asked to play an enormous amount of games to compensate for the squad's imbalance. While Grenier has played that holding role on two occasions this season, it does not come naturally to him.
However, with Santi Cazorla increasingly being deployed on the wing, Arsenal would benefit from the addition of another central creative midfielder.
At the end of 2012-13, the Gunners put together a remarkable run of eight wins and two draws in their last 10 games. The majority of these matches featured a midfield base of Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey with the more inventive talents of Jack Wilshere or Tomas Rosicky asked to play further upfield. Given both players' injury problems and Rosicky's advancing age, acquiring Grenier would be a sensible addition to the squad.
In his interview with Telefoot, Arsene Wenger compared Grenier to Samir Nasri. On the surface, it's easy to understand why: both players are French. They're also prodigiously talented creative midfielders who prefer to play in the middle. Wenger was grooming Nasri to inherit Cesc Fabregas' No. 10 role before Nasri defected to Manchester City.
However, watching Grenier in action, he calls to mind another former Arsenal player: Robert Pires. Although he does not ply his trade on the wing, his upright running style and shuffling dribbling style both echo the 2002 Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year.
Like Pires, he is also capable of finishing confidently with either foot. Grenier notched seven goals in Ligue 1 last season, some of them spectacular.
Grenier would also address Arsenal's long-standing weakness at set pieces. Lyon entrust him with responsibility in a variety of dead-ball situations. According to the official Ligue 1 website, he was charged with taking 89 corners for the French side this season.
He has also proved himself to a major threat from direct free kicks. Some of his recent efforts emulate with the swerving style of David Beckham.
A creative midfielder may not be Arsenal's most pressing need, but if they choose to acquire one then Grenier ought to be a good fit. His intelligence and outstanding technique would instantly add depth to the Arsenal squad and provide Arsene Wenger with a variety of midfield options.
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