With a successful season to date and heading into the homestretch, ASSE have been the focus of more media attention then usual. Focus has been on the chase for Champions League qualification and on the future status of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The latest reports are coming in the form of a double swoop from Arsenal aimed at the heart of Saint-Etienne's roster.
The Mirror is one of several news outlets reporting that Arsenal are eyeing up a double move for striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier.
Aubameyang has been in the form of his life since the winter break. The number of teams linked with making a move for the talented striker continues to grow.
Saint-Etienne fans have been preparing themselves for his inevitable departure. Talent like his does not stay in France for long, especially when the wolves are at the door. The club was able to hold off approaches made in January, and Aubameyang seems focused on taking ASSE into a European competition spot.
While Aubameyang has left the door open to coming back to Saint-Etienne if he helps the club qualify for the Champions League, the opportunities that will present themselves will be too much for him to not give serious consideration to.
In Aubameyang, Arsenal would get a striker with great speed and technique. His abilities would fit very well in Arsene Wenger's style of play.
Aubameyang's future opportunities leave ASSE in a position where they need to begin planning for his departure.
The good thing for Les Verts is they have brought in many capable attacking players. Mollo, Cohade, and Hamouma form an excellent attack to build around. These players can score but are more adept at the buildup to the chance. Finding a finisher who is versatile enough to play on the wing or centrally will be a necessity.
While losing Aubameyang is tough to contend with, ASSE are better equipped to overcome his loss than losing Arsenal's other reported target, Ruffier.
Saint-Etienne fans have become accustomed to having the reliable Ruffier man the nets. There are other keepers in Ligue 1 who may get more recognition, but Ruffier has made a legitimate claim on being one of France's top netminders with his play.
Ruffier brings leadership along with his abilities. Ruffier has proven himself on multiple occasions, including twice against PSG where he was man-of-the-match worthy against his talented opposition.
Ruffier would bring a calming presence to the Arsenal goal. His experience would serve well to mentor Szczesny, and his ability would push the young Polish keeper for the No. 1 jersey.
In this case, Arsenal's gain in shoring up a weakness would create a large void for Saint-Etienne. Les Verts would have to use some of the money from the potential transfers to bring in a keeper who can fill Ruffier's boots, as there is no one who looks ready to step up from within.
Would Saint-Etienne consider moving for an up-and-coming keeper, or do they look for a more experienced presence?
France is full of young keepers with bright futures. Pierrick Cros (despite a ligament tear), Abdoulaye Diallo and Baptiste Reynet are all keepers with high ceilings who may be had this summer. There are risks associated with turning the squad over to a young keeper, but ASSE have not been afraid to make moves when needed.
If Arsenal do make an approach for and capture both this summer, then Saint-Etienne will be missing two players who have been at the very core of their revival. Losing Aubameyang would hurt, but many ASSE fans will agree that Ruffier leaving would create a bigger hole to fill.
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