Liverpool may be about to go to battle with Arsenal once again, but this time for the services of defender Bacary Sagna.
The two English giants have played twice in the past 10 days, Liverpool humiliating Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield before the Gunners gained a degree of revenge in the FA Cup.
Relations may sour further with news that Liverpool are prepared to tempt Sagna with a “substantial offer,” according to Gianluca Di Marzio of Sky Italia and Calciomercato:
The French defender has an expiring contract, he is pondering Arsenal’s renewal offer, but the Gunners aren’t the only EPL club pursuing him. In fact, Liverpool has made him a substantial offer.
It will be up to Sagna to decide if he wants to remain in England or not. Should he decide to leave the Premier League, Inter is in the pole position, but Sagna has yet to respond to the nerazzurri’s offer.
Di Marzio supported his claims on Twitter:
There is confirmed doubt over the future of Sagna, who continues to dither over the signing of a new Arsenal deal. His old one expires this summer.
Arsene Wenger, somewhat characteristically, has given many positive updates over the right-back’s future, but the Arsenal boss recently confessed Sagna might leave, per the Express’ Charles Perrin:
When I say I expect (Sagna to stay), it is more that I want it. I hope that, in the end, I am right. We are not close at the moment.
It is an important contract for him. He is 31 years old (this month) and I can understand. He wants to keep his options open
I am not all right with that because I would like him to sign just now, but I have to accept it. It is his freedom, the decision belongs to him.
Sagna’s situation is an interesting one. Now the wrong side of 30, he has one last chance to net a major payday by leaving Arsenal for a hefty signing-on fee to join a new club.
Additionally, Arsenal rarely offer veteran players more than a one-year commitment—per the Independent's James Orr—so it is likely Sagna could protect his future and open himself up to a new challenge by moving elsewhere.
Liverpool don’t naturally tend to move for aging players. Brendan Rodgers’ policy, which is aligned to the club’s owners, is to buy young players who he can develop. Such a policy also gives the Reds a good chance of gaining a decent return on their investment.
However, Kolo Toure stands as the exception to the rule, adding legitimacy to Di Marzio’s claims of Liverpool’s interest in Sagna.
Rodgers is attempting to blend hungry, talented youngsters with proven winners like Toure and Steven Gerrard, ensuring his squad has the right level of experience.
Current first-choice right-back Glen Johnson has suffered countless injuries this season and may be nearing the end of his Anfield career if Rodgers begins to believe he cannot rely on the England international for an entire campaign.
Martin Kelly is a promising right-back, but he too has had limited playing time this term after a serious knee injury.
Jon Flanagan has been the man to capitalise on the situation with a string of fine performances, but at 21 years of age he still has plenty to learn and would benefit from working alongside a pro like Sagna.
For Arsenal, Sagna’s potential exit would be felt. Only Carl Jenkinson acts as legitimate backup, but Sagna’s influence this season has gone beyond his natural duties.
At the start of the campaign, the France international was relied upon to slot in at the heart of the back four, and his versatility is no doubt something that also appeals to Rodgers at Liverpool.
The Mirror's John Cross believes Arsenal need to get the defender wrapped up:
Should Sagna choose to leave, it seems most likely he would leave the country—perhaps with Inter—having spent so many years at Arsenal. However, money often talks in football, so a major offer from Liverpool might prove too much to ignore.