Scouting Report: Should Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger Sign Benjamin Andre?

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Scouting Report: Should Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger Sign Benjamin Andre?
Jacques Brinon/Associated Press

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must bolster his squad depth in the summer transfer window. Should Ajaccio utility player Benjamin Andre be a transfer target? To cover that hypothetical, here is a scouting report on Andre, a 23-year-old French footballer. 

 

Arsenal's Midfield Depth

While not an elite player, Andre will add depth to Arsenal's squad. 

Wenger has decided not to extend Kim Kallstrom's temporary stay into a permanent one, per Arsenal's official website: "He is on loan, so he belongs to [Spartak] Moscow and will go back to Moscow."

Source: TheFA.com.

This opens up a squad position for Andre, who has played 187 league games in the last six seasons, 102 games more than Arsenal central midfielder Abou Diaby. 

Once a world-class prospect, Diaby's development has been repeatedly impeded by injuries, and at one point, he contemplated retirement. 

"I told myself: 'I am fed up. I quit'," Diaby said, per L'Equipe (h/t Patrick Haond at Sky Sports). "Then, one day I woke up: 'No, out of the question to quit.'"

There is always hope of a Cinderella story, but signing Andre would act as a precautionary measure should Diaby's body break down again. 

Overcoming the odds will be Diaby's goal next season, and it is an objective shared by Francis Coquelin.

League Only Tackles Per Game Interceptions Per Game Fouls Per Game
       
Coquelin 2013-14 (Freiburg) 0.7 0.6 0.9
Coquelin 2011-12 (Arsenal) 3.2 1.9 0.5
       

Coquelin statistically regressed on loan at Freiburg.

Subjectively speaking, he was outshone by Admir Mehmedi, Jonathan Schmid, Matthias Ginter, Oliver Sorg and Vladimir Darida, Freiburg players who resembled more of an Arsenal player than Coquelin, an Arsenal loanee. 

Kicker is a German sports magazine which has a rating system for footballers on a scale of one to six, where one is Thierry Henry (great) and six is Andre Santos (bad). 

Of the 10 Bundesliga games Coquelin qualified for a rating, he registered two fives and three 4.5s, per Kicker

Source: Kicker.de.

Coquelin needs an Aaron Ramsey-like resurgence, otherwise he will not trouble Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere or Mathieu Flamini. 

Versatility is what separates Andre from Arteta, Wilshere and Flamini. 

A jack of all trades, Andre has started at right-back, right wing, defensive midfield and up front. 

Source: Ligue1.com.

When in-game adjustments have been made, Andre has spent time in the centre of midfield, on the left wing and behind the No. 9. 

 

Positives

Andre is an altruistic, highly motivated, ultra-competitive and very aggressive footballer. 

He is pound-for-pound one of the toughest players in Europe. 

He plays with unbridled intensity, he speeds toward opposing players like a Greyhound and forces cheap turnovers, like when he stole the ball from Sochaux central midfielder Marco Ilaimaharitra.

Source: Ligue1.com.

Player Height Weight Headers Per Game
       
Per Mertesacker 6'6" 198 lb 2.7
Olivier Giroud 6'4" 194 lb 4.1
Laurent Koscielny 6'1" 165 lb 1.6
Benjamin Andre 5'10" 150 lb 4.2
       

The reason why Andre is so prolific in the air is his willingness to put his body on the line. 

Against Lille, he recklessly flung himself at the ball while centre-back Simon Kjaer watched on. 

The end result was Andre knocking the ball down for Ajaccio centre-forward Gadji Tallo, who clipped the ball over onrushing Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

Source: Ligue1.com.

Andre possesses unswerving confidence in his ability, which is why you see him attempting unorthodox moves, as illustrated against Rennes.

Instead of trapping the ball and taking on left-back Steven Moreira, Andre scored an audacious left-footed inswinging instep half-volley from the left wing. 

Source: Ligue1.com.

Andre scored the same amount of goals (four) for Ajaccio, a relegated Ligue 1 team, as Santi Cazorla did for fourth-placed Arsenal. 

In a play against Paris Saint-Germain, rather than take a snap shot, Andre guided the ball—as he fell over—into the path of Ajaccio centre-forward Eduardo, who poached a goal. 

Source: Ligue1.com.

Andre accumulated more assists in league play (five) than Wilshere (four) this season.

 

Negatives  

Andre routinely crosses the line, is hot-headed and struggles to contain his emotions. 

Last season, he tried to choke then-Bastia player Jerome Rothen.

Source: Ligue1.com.

This season, while on a yellow card, Andre took out Saint-Etienne central attacking midfielder Benjamin Corgnet, resulting in another red card. 

Source: Ligue1.com.

One of the reasons why a high-energy player like Andre does not average more tackles per game than 2.4 is his overzealous pressing, like conceding six free-kicks against Saint Etienne.

Source: Squawka.com.

Andre runs a fine line between winning the ball and fouling an opposing player, which was evident when his trailing leg brought down Toulouse right wing-back Serge Aurier.

Source: Ligue1.com.

Ajaccio were drawing 2-2 with Toulouse in stoppage time at the time of Andre's challenge, so it was a low footballing IQ decision.

Ajaccio keeper Guillermo Ochoa bailed Andre out by denying Toulouse centre-back Jonathan Zebina from the penalty spot. 

Source: Ligue1.com.

Another problem with Andre's game is his inability to be a reliable passing outlet. 

He rushes his passes, he commits baffling decisions when in possession, is often not on the same  as his teammates and prefers making the Hollywood highlight-reel pass than making the right pass.  

  • Concedes possession 28.9 percent of the time he attempts a pass.
  • Concedes possession 55.5 percent of the time he attempts a long pass.
  • Concedes possession 83 percent of the time he attempts a cross. 

This is why Andre's passing completion percentage has fluctuated.

Source: Squawka.com.

 

Bottom Line

Signing Andre would be in line with Wenger's tendency to take a chance on rough diamonds from struggling French teams. 

Player (Year) Team League Rank
       
Yaya Sanogo (2013)  Auxerre Ligue 2 9th
Park Chu-Young (2011) Monaco Ligue 1  18th (relegated)
Alex Song (2006) Bastia Ligue 1 19th (relegated)
Gael Clichy (2003) Cannes Championnat National [1] 7th
       

Ajaccio finished bottom of Ligue 1 this season, so Andre should be looking to leave. 

He plays with passion, he can plug holes as a utility player and, at 23 years of age, he can develop into a better footballer under Wenger's tutelage. 


[1] French third division. 

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com.

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