It may not be official just yet, but Auxerre forward Yaya Sanogo is all but certain to be an Arsenal player next season. What isn't quite so apparent is exactly what his role will be at the club next year.
According to Tony Little of The Sun, Sanogo and the club have agreed to terms on a four-year deal. And Sanogo verified that he was soon to be a Gunner in that report:
Sanogo, a target for Lille, said he was won over by the first-class treatment he received from [Arsene] Wenger and Gunners scout Gilles Grimandi.
The striker added: “Gilles came to watch me at Auxerre and he invited me to a hotel in Paris. Arsene Wenger was there to welcome me in person.
“I was very impressed that he had come all that way specially. He told me I would get my chance at Arsenal. He said he’d been following me for years. The journey he’d made convinced me to join Arsenal.”
Sanogo will surely get his chance at Arsenal, but the question is when? The club appears to be this close to signing Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain, who would surely be the starting striker, while Olivier Giroud is still on the roster as well.
Remember, Sanogo is just 20 years of age. He's still a developing talent, and it's hard to see him cracking Arsenal's first team on a regular basis.
Would Arsenal sign Sanogo and promptly loan him back to Auxerre? Would Wenger find a way to work him into a few matches here and there, namely in the opening stages of domestic cup competitions? Would he try to play the youngster in wide positions?
Given Sanogo's speed, it's a possibility. Given his size, strength, ability to adeptly hold up the play and nose for the goal, however, it would probably be a waste of his talents to move him away from the center of the pitch.
He scored 10 goals in 13 matches for Auxerre this season—including seven in a two-game span midseason—so when he's healthy, he's certainly a force to be reckoned with.
But Sanogo comes with his own set of concerns, namely that he has been extremely injury prone in his career. Plus, he doesn't have much Ligue 1 experience, as injuries hampered him in the past and Auxerre played in Ligue 2 after being relegated a year ago.
So Sanogo may say that Wenger has ensured him that he'll get his chance at the club, but it's hard to imagine that role being a regular one for the first team in the immediate future. His talent is evident, but his journey up Arsenal's pecking order is just beginning.