Most of the early transfer talk surrounding Arsenal concerned links to marquee names such as Wayne Rooney and Stevan Jovetic. But it appears the first splash Arsene Wenger wants to make involves lesser-known striker Yaya Sanogo.
Wenger confirmed that the Gunners are working toward an agreement with the 20-year-old French youth international but cautioned no deal is complete yet, according to John Cross of the Daily Mirror.
We are advanced with him, but it's not done. I'm very confident (it will be done).
He's a young striker who is promising. He has some talent. Big talent.
Sanogo has shown terrific ability in front of goal for both Ligue 2 side Auxerre and France's youth national team. He's found the net eight times in 12 league matches during the current campaign—an impressive rate even against a lower level of competition.
The most important thing to realize about the Gunners' target is that he's still very raw. He's had no trouble scoring, but the difference between where he's played so far and the Premier League is gigantic. It would be a major jump.
There would be a transition period before he's ready to make an impact with Arsenal. While he possesses the potential to fill the void atop the club's formation in the future, it won't happen right away next season. So that search should continue into the summer.
That said, it's hard not to be intrigued by his upside. Sanogo is 6'3'' with a combination of strength and speed that makes him an ideal player to lead an attack. He can win a ball in the air one minute and run past a defender the next.
Injuries have held him back, though. Robin Bairner of Goal.com explains the constant issues that have held him back in recent seasons.
Looking at the player's injury record gives a clue as to why. He has been beset by problems throughout his young career, including a broken leg that kept him out of virtually the entire 2009-10 campaign and a torn adductor that saw him sidelined for much of the following season.
To make matters worse, he has been plagued by a series of more minor issues over the course of the last year and will on Friday, assuming he is selected to play against Clermont, only feature in five consecutive matches for the first time in his career.
It's a concern, there's no doubt about that. Players who receive the injury-prone label early in their careers often have a hard time shaking it. The endless issues also tend to become a mental battle, although Sanogo has bounced back strong each time.
For Wenger, it all comes down to risk and reward.
The risk is that injuries will stop him from reaching his sky-high potential and keep him from ever making a serious impact with the Gunners. On the flip side, the reward is Premier League experience allows him to grow as a player and he becomes the lead striker Arsenal lost when Robin van Persie left.
Add in the fact Wenger only has to pay a compensation fee, and it's clear the potential reward outweighs the inherent risk.
Sanogo has all the tools to become a star. Taking a chance on him while his stock is still low could pay off in a major way for Arsenal down the line.
They just have to hope he can remain healthy enough to start putting his finishing ability, strength and speed into one total package. It's going to take some patience from the Gunners, but that's something the club should understand going in.
Arsenal have to take some chances to keep up with the likes of Manchester United. Sanogo is an example of one they should take, and it sounds like they are close to doing exactly that.