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Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Steve Mandanda Move Should Be Overlooked

Marseille's French goalkepper Steve Mandanda, waves to supporters, after the League One soccer match against Valenciennes, at the Velodrome Stadium, in Marseille, southern France, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Claude Paris/Associated Press
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2014

Arsene Wenger is rumoured to once again be scouring his native France to uncover fresh talent, but the Arsenal boss should overlook a reported move for Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.

The experienced stopper is rumoured, per Jamie Sanderson of the Metro, to have caught Wenger's attention:

Arsenal want to sign France international goalkeeper Steve Mandanda from Marseille at the end of the season to add competition to current first-choice Wojciech Szczesny.

[...] According to reports, Arsenal value him at about £6million and will push to bring him to the Emirates Stadium to act as real competition between the sticks.

While competition for Wojciech Szczesny is healthy, the reported sum of £6 million is too much for a player who is likely to spend much of the season on the bench. Once outlined as one of Europe's top up-and-coming prospects, Mandanda has never quite lived up to the potential he showed as a youngster at Le Havre.

This is perhaps highlighted by his continued exile from the French national squad. Hugo Lloris, Tottenham's energetic sweeper keeper, is currently preferred in the Les Bleus setup, confirmed when Mandanda was an unused substitute in the team that toppled the Netherlands 2-0 on March 5.

Despite keeping 18 clean sheets for Marseille last season, per Squawka, Mandanda is likely to remain a spectator during the 2014 World Cup.

He has made sporadic performances since being dropped by Raymond Domenech in 2009 and failed to appear at the 2010 showpiece after conceding six in seven qualifiers against unfancied teams such as Serbia, Romania and Austria—reported by FIFA.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25:  Steve Mandanda of Olympic Marseille talks to the media during a press conference at Emirates Stadium on November 25, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Mandanda is a terrific shot stopper and possesses excellent reflexes. He is powerful, athletic and has the capacity for flamboyancy, but he isn't needed at the Emirates. Szczesny's form has remained consistent and confident across the last two seasons, making up for a shaky start to life in England, and he doesn't show signs of being dropped anytime soon.

Wenger has struggled to provide previous back-ups with game time in recent years, as noted by the departure of Vito Mannone, who is currently enjoying an excellent campaign with Sunderland.

Lukasz Fabianski has fallen victim to Szczesny's excellent showings—the most memorable of which saw his Polish compatriot thwart Robin van Persie with an excellent save during the recent 0-0 with Manchester United—and is expected to leave the club in the summer. As noted by Wenger and reported by BBC Sport, "Of course it is a possibility that it is his last campaign with us because he wants to play somewhere but if he changes his mind, my door is open," said the Gunners manager.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Wojciech Szczesny of Arsenal in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Arsenal at Britannia Stadium on March 1, 2014 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Mandanda is undoubtedly a bigger name than Arsenal's previous No. 2s. He is unlikely to entertain the idea of playing reserve, an occurrence that would harm his international chances even further. For Wenger, the money is better spent elsewhere.

Bacary Sagna's future appears uncertain after the French right-back told teammates he is leaving, as reported in the Sun on Sunday and via ESPN. A world-class replacement will be needed if this comes to fruition, but further gaps in the squad suggest Wenger should deploy the potential Mandanda funds in other areas.

Olivier Giroud is in desperate need of a strike partner, or a replacement who can remove some pressure from the hard-working Frenchman. Consistently tasked with leading Arsenal's frontline this season, Giroud has played 32 games across the Premier League and Champions League alone, per WhoScored.com.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MARCH 01:  Bacary Sagna of Arsenal shows his dejection at the end of  the Barclays Pemier League match between Stoke City and Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium on March 1, 2014 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Yaya Sanogo's return from injury has lauded three substitute appearances, but the gangly forward has some way to go before entering the first team on a weekly basis.

Potential targets such as Mario Balotelli could be a possibility, per Ben Jefferson of the Express, suggesting Wenger would be wise to refrain from improving a reserve goalkeeper position that needn't be so costly.

As highlighted by Chelsea's free acquisition of Mark Schwarzer last year, per the club's official website, there is little need to spend so lavishly on a player whose impact will be minimal.

Mandanda is a talented professional, someone who could make a difference if he was given a first-team opportunity, but a potential move to Arsenal will do nothing but stutter his career for an overpriced fee. This doesn't benefit either party and underlines the notion that Wenger must spend carefully, not just for the sake of it.

 


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