With Bacary Sagna's departure all but confirmed, Arsenal must act fast to secure a replacement. If the man they want is Toulouse's Serge Aurier, they ought to do everything they can to tie up the deal before the World Cup.
In truth, Arsene Wenger has surely known for some time that Sagna was likely to leave. Despite his public denials, the Arsenal boss must have recognised that if Sagna intended to stay, he would have signed his contract long before now. According to Jamie Jackson of The Guardian, Sagna's move to Manchester is now imminent:
Manchester City are on the verge of announcing the signing of Bacary Sagna on a free transfer from Arsenal, with the right-back to earn at least £120,000 a week.
The 31-year-old is thought to have agreed a three-year deal to take him to the Premier League champions and strengthen Manuel Pellegrini's defensive options.
Given City’s £49m net transfer budget for the summer due to Uefa's FFP punishment the acquisition of Sagna for no fee will cause relief at the Etihad Stadium.
With Sagna's departure all but sealed, thoughts inevitably turn to potential replacements. Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph suggests that Aurier is the primary target. The player himself seems open to the possibility, stating: "I want to try something else. You can’t really say no to Arsenal."
The will is there on the player's side. All Arsenal need to do is arrange a fee with his club. It's in the interests of the Gunners to do that before this summer's international tournament.
The signs are that Aurier could be one of the breakout stars of Brazil 2014. He has had a fantastic season in Ligue 1. Despite being just 21, he has arguably been the most impressive full-back in France.
To call him a "full-back" isn't the most accurate description. More commonly, he has been deployed as the right-sided member of a trio of centre-halves, or alternatively as a pure wing-back. Stats site WhoScored named him in their Ligue 1 Team of the Year as a right-winger, and it's easy to see why; he has enormous attacking potential. According to WhoScored, he racked up six goals and six assists in just 34 games. For a player who is primarily regarded as a defender, that's a remarkable tally.
Aurier was selected for the Ivory Coast World Cup squad ahead of former Gunner Emmanuel Eboue. In this form, he seems primed to force his way into the international XI. If he does, there could be no stopping him.
A good World Cup could see Aurier's price tag multiply considerably. Traditionally, Wenger leaves his transfer business late in order to squeeze clubs for the best possible price. In this instance, Arsenal could live to regret dallying. Confirming Aurier's signing before the World Cup would ensure a reasonable price and put one of Arsenal's major pieces of business to bed.