Is Arsene Wenger plotting another surprise in the transfer market?
Sky Sports recently reported that rumoured Arsenal target Tongo Doumbia is in talks with an English Premier League club. The Malian has been linked with Arsenal by talkSPORT, as a cheaper alternative to Yann M'Vila.
Doumbia also plies his trade for Rennes, but does not carry the price tag or name value of M'Vila. Strong and combative, Doumbia offers more of a threat going forward than M'Vila.
The 22-year-old is a driving player from midfield with the power to out-muscle would-be tacklers and the pace to break quickly from the middle. He offers more energy than M'Vila and his style should suit the Premier League and ensure a quicker transition to the pace of the game in England.
Many would no doubt be disappointed if Arsene Wenger opted for Doumbia over the more highly-touted M'Vila. Certainly Doumbia is not as technically refined as his teammate.
However, it would be typical of Wenger to spring a surprise of this nature, after having been linked with M'Vila for so long. A possible drawback to any move for Doumbia, would be the player's potential participation in this season's Africa Cup of Nations. Wenger has never hesitated to recruit African players in the past. Arsenal's midfield needs reinforcements and rather than target players who fit moulds such as "holding player," or "advanced playmaker," Arsenal need an active presence.
Too many times last season players such as Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song were outpaced in the middle. Having a player like Doumbia doing the running would complement Song and Mikel Arteta well, both of whom like to operate from fixed positions.
Doumbia can give the Gunners midfield a player who will cover a lot of ground and look to influence the game in every area of the pitch. The signing would not have the marquee prestige of a move for M'Vila, but it could prove to be the kind of under the radar acquisition Wenger has often turned into a masterstroke.