Arsenal are reported to be closing in on a deal to sign highly rated Auxerre attacker Paul-Georges Ntep this winter.
According to The Independent's Ed Aarons, the player's agent has confirmed the Gunners are interested in his services, with talk of a £7 million figure mounting:
Spoke to Ntep's agent yesterday and he admitted Arsenal have been watching. £7m a lot for Ligue 2 player but v highly-rated in France #afc— Ed Aarons (@ed_aarons) January 16, 2014
It's a risk for Arsene Wenger's side to fork out such a large fee for the 21-year-old, who would be the Gunners' second pickup from Auxerre in the space of six months, following last July's acquisition of Yaya Sanogo as a free transfer.
Should Arsenal chase up a second Auxerre acquisition?
If the 20-year-old's form has been any sort of template for the Gunners, there isn't a lot of promise for their latest Ligue 2 interest, considering Sanogo has featured just once in the Premier League this season and is yet to score his first Arsenal goal.
In fairness, Sanogo has been injured, and Ntep has been a more senior figure at Auxerre than his former teammate. However, the purchase seems dubious as the £7 million figure linked with his name is enough to lure a number of more experienced and established names.
In 20 starts across all club competitions this season, Ntep has scored 10 goals, per Transfermarkt. However, it hasn't been enough to boost Auxerre's hopes of promotion, with the club currently sitting 12th in France's second tier.
It's this lack of efficient bartering that strikes as odd for the English giants. Paying a £7 million figure for a player would be a hefty commitment if Ntep were playing in the top flight. Considering he's not even proving himself in Ligue 1 this term, one might question his credibility.
It's clearer from Arsenal's alleged intent to loan the player back out that Ntep isn't necessarily being pursued with first-team intentions immediately in mind.
It's a similar scenario to the one that saw Joel Campbell sent back out on loan, but then Ntep's purchase leaves one wondering where the Costa Rican fits into Wenger's plans.
For now, it might be a savvier course of action for the club to devote the funds toward a more direct source of impact, rather than splash out on another up-and-coming talent.
It's in Arsenal's nature to breed talent from within their own ranks, but when the youth have reached the inflated prices of today's market, there's not always value in the investment.