Mathieu Debuchy Is the Perfect Replacement for Bacary Sagna at Arsenal

Jack LusbyFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2014

Newcastle United right-back Mathieu Debuchy would be an astute signing by Arsene Wenger.
Newcastle United right-back Mathieu Debuchy would be an astute signing by Arsene Wenger.Getty Images/Getty Images

Long-term Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna sealed his move to Premier League rivals Manchester City last month, leaving manager Arsene Wenger with a huge gap to plug—enter Mathieu Debuchy.

The Newcastle United man is inching towards a big move to the North London side, with Louise Taylor of The Guardian reporting that the Frenchman could make his way in a £7.9 million move.

Costa Rica star Joel Campbell is tentatively mentioned as a makeweight, whilst a swap involving current Arsenal full-back Carl Jenkinson is also mooted.

However, as Taylor writes, “Newcastle would prefer to explore other options in that position,” suggesting that this will likely be a straight-cash deal.

Either way, it is hugely likely that the transfer will go ahead in due course.

At 28 years old and already settled in the Premier League, Debuchy would be a shrewd replacement for the outgoing Sagna, and would provide sustained stability to the Gunners’ defence.


Debuchy endured a collectively poor 2013/14 season at St. James' Park.
Debuchy endured a collectively poor 2013/14 season at St. James' Park.Michael Regan/Getty Images

2013/14 Form

It is fair to say that Newcastle’s 2013/14 season was one to forget, with Alan Pardew’s charges struggling for goals following the departure of principal playmaker Yohan Cabaye to PSG.

The Tyneside club finished 10th in the Premier League table, a marked upgrade on their 16th-placed finish the previous season but once more far removed from the dizzying heights of their barnstorming success in 2011/12.

An opening-day 4-0 defeat away to Manchester City set a precedent for Newcastle’s season, unfortunately punctuated by successive losses to rivals Sunderland.

Debuchy made 29 Premier League appearances last term, including 28 starts, per

With the Frenchman in the side, Newcastle conceded 44 goals, keeping nine clean sheets.

Furthermore, the 28-year-old collected eight yellow cards and one red card, whilst the right-back scored one goal and assisted another three.

Despite an indifferent season for the Magpies, Debuchy was called up to Didier Deschamps World Cup squad for the 2014 tournament, making four appearances as Les Bleus made it to the quarter-finals.


Debuchy celebrates scoring for Newcastle last season.
Debuchy celebrates scoring for Newcastle last season.Scott Heppell/Associated Press


Debuchy’s strengths are many and varied, a testament to the interest of his compatriot, Wenger; furthermore, in comparison with his potential predecessor, Sagna, Debuchy is hugely impressive.

Per WhoScored, the 28-year-old, on average, won 3.3 tackles and made 2.4 interceptions per Premier League game.

Comparatively, Sagna made just 1.7 tackles and 1.5 interceptions on average per game, again according to WhoScored.

Debuchy is an exceptional defensive presence, as evidenced by his Squawka-attributed average of eight defensive actions, encompassing interceptions, blocks and clearances, per game in the league.

Once more according to Squawka, ex-Gunner Sagna made one less defensive action per game.

Departing his long-term home of the Emirates Stadium, loyal Gunners will likely bemoan the loss of Sagna’s accurate crosses, propensity to plunge into the attacking sector and his unlikely ability in the air.

However, by replacing the 31-year-old, Debuchy seemingly has these areas covered.

WhoScored shows the French international as having made an average per game of 0.5 accurate crosses—equalling that of Sagna—and 0.6 successful dribbles to his compatriot’s 0.2.

Furthermore, Squawka shows that Debuchy won 68 per cent of his headed duels encounter last season, with Sagna accomplishing a marginally worse 67 per cent.

In Debuchy’s defensive contribution as well as his strengths in the attack, Arsenal have seemingly found a successful replacement for their long-serving right-back.


Debuchy will need to develop his on-ball ability to succeed at Arsenal.
Debuchy will need to develop his on-ball ability to succeed at Arsenal.Stu Forster/Getty Images


However, the 28-year-old is not without his weaknesses, and these are mainly found within his ability on the ball.

An average passing accuracy of just 72.8 in the Premier League last season, per WhoScored, wholly jars with the patient, proving aesthetic fostered by Wenger at the North London club.

Replacing Sagna, Debuchy would need to focus on developing this area of the game, as his likely predecessor boasted an impressive passing accuracy of 85.3 last season.

With the full-back position often one of the most under pressure within a modern footballing side, the latter represents an exceptional return.

This deficiency may, however, be ironed out under Wenger at Arsenal; it is pertinent to identify that Pardew’s system at Newcastle is far removed from that of the Frenchman’s Gunners.

Representing Debuchy’s main weakness, this will be of little cause for concern for the Arsenal manager as a composure in recycling possession can be quickly transplanted in training.


Debuchy is the ideal replacement for Bacary Sagna in North London.
Debuchy is the ideal replacement for Bacary Sagna in North London.Scott Heppell/Associated Press

Will Debuchy Fit in at Arsenal?

Taylor, again writing for The Guardian, opined on the 28-year-old’s move to North London that “surrounded by better players than those at Newcastle while benefiting from Wenger’s tuition, Debuchy can only improve further.”

This is a solid testament to the scope within which the French international can develop and, already a perfect replacement for Sagna, will bode well for the Gunners’ defensive future.

Taylor continues “If Debuchy is likely to be re-energised by both life in London and the prospect of playing Champions League football again, Arsenal’s more subtle style should suit his game infinitely better.”

With a large measure of European experience from his time at Ligue 1 side Lille, Debuchy will slot in to Arsenal’s potential Champions League campaign as adeptly as he will their trials in the Premier League.

Whilst other mooted targets, such as Toulouse and Ivory Coast marauder Serge Aurier, may have represented a more attractive prospect to the fantasy-football managers amongst the Emirates faithful, Debuchy is by far and away the most suitable replacement for Sagna.

The perfect fit for Wenger, and at a bargain price.

Do you agree that Mathieu Debuchy is the perfect replacement for Bacary Sagna at Arsenal? Let us know in the comments below.