Mathieu Debuchy Represents Sensible Arsenal Transfer Rather Than Spectacular

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL - JUNE 15:  Mathieu Debuchy of France and Emilio Izaguirre of Honduras battle for the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E match between France and Honduras at Estadio Beira-Rio on June 15, 2014 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The news (via that Arsenal have completed the signing of Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle won't generate enormous levels of excitement among the Gunners fans.

Rumours about this deal have arguably been overshadowed by the rollercoaster thrills of another transfer saga involving Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez.

Regardless, Debuchy is not a player to set the pulse racing. However, he could prove to be a very sensible recruit.

Ideally, Arsene Wenger did not want to sign a right-back this summer. His original intention was to retain Bacary Sagna on a new contract.

However, try though they might, the Gunners could not convince Sagna to sign an extension. He subsequently left to join Manchester City on a Bosman transfer, and Wenger was left with a significant void to fill.

It's difficult to upgrade on Sagna. There are few right-backs in the world who could match his consistent excellence. Yet there are those who rate Debuchy above the former Arsenal No. 3.

Didier Deschamps is one such man. The France manager has had Debuchy as his first-choice right-back throughout his reign. In Brazil, Debuchy missed only the relatively inconsequential final group game.

What made Debuchy such a favourite for Deschamps? Well, he’s a naturally attacking full-back. With Patrice Evra bombing forward on the left, Debuchy offered Deschamps balance on the right, breaking forward to link up with Mathieu Valbuena.

As in the French national team, Arsenal's wingers typically drift infield. Theo Walcott, for example, often ducks inside to play close to Olivier Giroud. When he does so, Debuchy could be asked to provide the missing width on the right flank.

However, this is not merely an attacker masquerading as a right-back. Debuchy is a solid defender, too, and stats service Squawka have done the research to prove it. His numbers compare favourably with most of the Premier League's leading right-backs.


The above chart demonstrates that he was superior to Sagna in each of the key measurement categories. Somewhat surprisingly, he even won more headers per game than the former Auxerre man.

These numbers, of course, could be distorted by the relative strength of the competing teams. At Newcastle, Debuchy typically faced more defensive action than Sagna was exposed to at Arsenal.

In order to prove Debuchy's credentials, Squawka took their investigation to the international stage, comparing him with the other right-backs at this summer’s World Cup.


Once again, the Frenchman fared well. Arsenal appear to have landed themselves a very competent player at a very reasonable fee.

He's not perfect. His time at Newcastle has been punctuated by the occasional lack of discipline. He is prone to lapses in concentration as well as the odd rash tackle. Wenger will hope that's something that can be coached out of him. At 28, he is mature enough to take Wenger's guidance on board.

What's more, his age means he shouldn't block the progress of the promising pair of Carl Jenkinson and Hector Bellerin for too long.

Louise Taylor of The Guardian, who has watched Debuchy closely during his time in the north-east of England, recalls a glowing reference from former Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye:

Debuchy’s great friend Yohan Cabaye describes him as possessing 'a great mentality, great fight and great fitness' and, transplanted into a new, appealing, north London habitat, Arsenal fans can expect to see all three qualities from the man keeping Sagna out of France’s first XI.

The raw components are all there. Debuchy is a talented defender with Premier League experience. To secure a player with those attributes and leave plenty of change in the transfer budget is a significant achievement.

Debuchy's arrival might not prompt the Arsenal fans to party in the streets, as they did when Mesut Ozil arrived last autumn. However, Sagna's acquisition hardly provoked mass hysteria, and he became revered at the Emirates Stadium.

If he can marry his quality with consistency, Debuchy may be able to follow suit.

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report’s lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.