Ligue 1 Defenders Potentially on Arsenal's Transfer Radar
Arsenal have lost many key players over the last few seasons without having a like replacement ready to step in. This summer could see more exits from the Gunners, but with the transfer kitty Arsene Wenger has available finding a suitable replacement should not be an issue.
One player looking at a potential exit is right-back Bacary Sagna. With a year left on his contract Sagna has seen his name linked with Inter Milan (via the Daily Mail) and PSG (Daily Mail report) among others.
With his dip in form due to injuries and with the defender entering his 30s, Wenger may be tempted to try to maximize the return for Sagna by moving him this summer.
Moving Sagna will further deplete a back four already viewed with a skeptical eye. Reinforcements for the defense will be part of Arsene Wenger's shopping list this summer.
The following are some prime candidates from Ligue 1 who could strengthen the Gunner defense.
Serge Aurier, Right-Back, Toulouse
Serge Aurier of Toulouse has the makings of a great two-way player. His ability to get forward and create havoc along with his growing defensive stature is making teams around Europe take notice.
His biggest improvement on the pitch over the past season is in understanding when to push forward versus when to stay home. This can be one of the most difficult aspects for an attack-minded defender to master.
Aurier has shown good balance in his game this year. His speed on the outside can be used to great effect on overlapping runs. These runs are made all the more effective by his improvement in his passing. His assets translate well into Arsenal's tactics.
Aurier still has some growth as a player to go through. With his potential to be a high-level player, he could serve Arsenal well backing up Carl Jenkinson as he develops.
Sebastien Corchia, Right-Back, Sochaux
Another potential target at right-back is Sebastien Corchia. Corchia has been one of the few bright spots in a dismal season for Sochaux.
Like Aurier, Corchia is a great asset in the attack. His ability on free kicks adds another dimension to what he brings to the pitch. Having a defender who can pinpoint dead balls into the area for players like Olivier Giroud and Per Mertesacker to get a head to would make Arsenal’s attack more varied and dangerous.
Corchia is well polished on his defensive duties. He has a good understanding of positioning and has the quickness and athletic ability to help neutralize opposition's wing play.
Corchia has been viewed as a candidate for the right-back position on the French national team. At 22 years old, the Sochaux defender has shown maturity and skill level beyond his years.
Arsenal have already been linked with Corchia through reports on Goal.com. It would not be a surprise to find Arsenal making inquiries ahead of what hopes to be a busy summer for the Gunners.
Nicolas N'Koulou, Center-Back, Marseille
Marseille’s Nicolas N’Koulou will be a highly sought after defender this summer. The center-back has continued to impress with L’OM and would provide Arsenal with the athleticism needed in the center of defense.
N’Koulou has excellent pace and good strength. This allows him to cover a great deal of space, but also handle the physical battles on set pieces.
At 23 years old, N’Koulou has already established himself as a regular on the Cameroon national team. He is seasoned enough to come in and be a difference maker, but is also young and talented enough to take his game to a higher level.
Marseille will try to keep hold of him, but if they let him leave, Arsenal can expect competition for his signature, as teams like Manchester City and AC Milan have been linked in the past (via the Daily Mirror).
Mamadou Sakho, Center-Back, PSG
Like N’Koulou, Mamadou Sakho is another center-back who has garnered a lot of attention. The PSG player has had a roller-coaster ride the last two years.
He has put in several excellent performances but has been splitting time with Alex as the preferred partner for Thiago Silva.
Sakho has good height and uses his long stride to sweep away trouble in the defensive third. He is still susceptible to the mental lapses in positioning, but with continual time on the pitch, that will be corrected.
Sakho will be another target who may be difficult to obtain. His availability will depend on how much of a role he will have in PSG’s plans for the future.
Samuel Umtiti, Center-Back, Lyon
A name not being discussed with Arsenal yet but is a typical Arsene Wenger signing is Lyon’s Samuel Umtiti. Umtiti is still learning the game, and at age 19 would be a buy for current depth and future potential.
Umtiti offers versatility, as he can play center-back or left-back. His future appears more set on playing in the center given his abilities.
The young defender has pace, and despite his wonder goal against Tottenham, is more of a stay-at-home defender.
His continued development will lead to him being more effective going forward. As he learns more accuracy with his powerful shots he will prove more of a threat in the attack.
For a young player, Umtiti has good touch on his passes and shows confidence on the ball when pressured. Umtiti provides the type of young talent Wenger loves to put his stamp on.