The Mirror's Zarif Rasul reported Wednesday that Arsenal are considering Toulouse full-back Serge Aurier as a possible replacement for Bacary Sagna. Sagna's contract runs out this summer, and so far Arsenal have yet to tie him down to a new deal.
Sagna has had a solid season for the Gunners, appearing 25 times in the Premier League. But with Sagna at 31 years old, Arsene Wenger may be thinking that his best performances are behind him and be unwilling to offer him a lucrative contract renewal.
Interest in the 21-year-old Aurier suggests that Wenger will instead look to the future. If Sagna goes, Carl Jenkinson will become Arsenal's only viable option at right-back. With just seven appearances in all competitions this season, Jenkinson is not a reliable or proven replacement for Sagna at the highest level.
Serge Aurier could represent the solution to this problem.
The highly rated Ivorian has become a regular member of the Toulouse side in Ligue 1 of France and already has seven caps for his country. Although this season he has mainly played at centre-back or in a right-sided defensive midfield position, he is extremely versatile and capable of playing anywhere along the back line. As well as providing strong competition for Jenkinson, he could provide extra cover for Arsenal's centre-backs.
Aurier would fit well with Arsenal's attacking mindset. A strong and powerful runner, he enjoys advancing up the field. This season he has scored five goals in 25 league appearances and provided six assists despite playing in defence.
His goals demonstrate he has strong aerial ability in addition to an excellent right-footed shot. Defensively, he may need some work, as Toulouse have shipped 40 goals this season. Still, Aurier is an athletic and committed player who has made an average of six blocks, interceptions or tackles per game, per Squawka. Having made his debut at just age 16 for Lens, he does not lack experience at a high level, despite his youth.
It seems it is not just Arsenal who are keen on the move. Aurier has told French paper L'Equipe that he is not averse to a transfer abroad, as reported by Sky Sports' Patrick Haond:
Moving abroad? I don't think it is too early.
It is about trust, and reaching a new step, I am not scared to go higher.
Another French club? I respect France but I would feel like betraying TFC if I would stay in Ligue 1.
Arsenal are not short on transfer funds, but there is still a feeling that they are underspending. As a club, Arsenal need to demonstrate to their fans and their competitors that this title-challenging season was not a one-off. Wenger must identify the areas of his squad that could be improved and act decisively in the transfer market this summer.
With a Transfermarkt value of £5.7 million and a contract until 2018, Aurier is likely to command a high fee from Toulouse. Even if Sagna changes his mind and accepts a new contract, Aurier would still be a wise investment for the Gunners, who desperately need to add depth to their squad. He may be exactly the sort of player Arsenal need to add pace to their back line.