Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press
In the wake of Sagna’s transfer to rival contenders Manchester City, Wenger will be faced with replacing a seven-year starter and a key cog in the Arsenal defense.
One rumor that has been circulating for a while links the Gunners with Ivory Coast standout Serge Aurier, and earlier this month, Alex Harris at Express reported that the club had already agreed to personal terms with the Ligue 1 standout.
Aurier, 21, broke out in the 2012-13 season with Toulouse, establishing himself as one of the league’s best full-backs and followed that up with an even better performance in the 2013-14 campaign.
According to WhoScored.com, his six goals last season tied him with Loic Perrin, a central defender whom we'll take a look at later, at the top of the Ligue 1 defender scoring charts, and his six assists were second behind just Henri Bedimo. Contributing to 12 goals in a season is a tremendous offensive output for a defender, and that elite ability in the attacking third has him poised to be one of the position’s best for years to come.
Defensively, Aurier was equally as impressive. He averaged an excellent 2.5 successful tackles for every foul he committed last season, and his positional versatility will allow him to deputize as a centre-back, just like Sagna did.
In fact, according to WhoScored positional data, Aurier actually made more appearances at centre-back than right-back last season, but he projects to be more of a full-back in the English top flight.
He is lightning fast and was clocked at 33.52 kilometers per hour by FIFA’s Team Tracking Statistics (h/t 101 Great Goals). That world-class speed is something you can’t teach, He uses it to great effect, marauding up and down the right-flank, constantly making overlapping runs or tracking back to dispossess opposing players.
But if recent reports are to be believed, it seems as though Wenger has chosen to go in a different direction.
Metro has reported that the Gunners have clinched a £12 million deal for Newcastle’s Mathieu Debuchy and will confirm the transfer upon the commencement of the World Cup.
The French international has started over Sagna in three of France’s four World Cup 2014 matches thus far, and he has already acclimatized to Premier League football.
Seamus Coleman may have been the best right-back in the Premier League last season, but Debuchy wasn’t far behind. Per WhoScored, he ranked in the top five in tackles per game and interceptions per game among Premier League full-backs, while also winning four aerial duels per game, good for first among league full-backs.
Debuchy is proven, but he is seven years Aurier’s senior, and considering both could be had for similar transfer fees, Aurier marks the better return on investment given his higher ceiling and potential resale opportunities.