Arsenal centre-back/left-back Thomas Vermaelen is heading for the exits, so could he be replaced by Evian Thonon Gaillard's Cedric Mongongu?
To cover the hypothetical scenario of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger targeting Mongongu, here is a scouting report on the 25-year-old Congolese international.
At 6'3" and 181 pounds, Mongongu possesses the prototypical physical tangibles associated with a top-flight centre-back.
Outweighing and being taller than Vermaelen (5'11", 165 pounds), Mongongu has a considerable physical advantage.
Mongongu uses his length to manufacture late defensive plays. Below, he's seen deflecting Monaco attacking midfielder Lucas Ocampos' shot onto the crossbar.
After dribbling past Evian goalkeeper Bertrand Laquait, Paris Saint-Germain forward Ezequiel Lavezzi's effort was blocked by Mongongu.
Last season, Mongongu accumulated 80 interceptions in league play, a total Vermaelen has never topped (personal best: 67, 2011-12).
Mongongu can assert his influence on games by creating turnovers:
- Seven interceptions vs. Sochaux, per FourFourTwo.
- Five interceptions vs. Bastia, per FourFourTwo.
- Five interceptions vs. Bordeaux, per FourFourTwo.
A play against Toulouse encapsulates the type of influence Mongongu could have for Arsenal:
- Positioned perfectly to intercept Toulouse wing-back Issiaga Sylla's cross.
- Launched a counter-attack with a clearance to Evian substitute Clarck N'Sikulu.
One quirky aspect of Mongongu's game is that he took penalties ahead of top scorer Kevin Berigaud, free-kicker extraordinaire Daniel Wass and the technically superb Cedric Barbosa.
Mongongu went 4-for-5 in Ligue 1 penalties last season.
He would be a trusted spot-kicker if Arsenal were involved in a penalty shootout (the Gunners won the 2005 FA Cup final via shootout and beat Wigan Athletic on penalties in the 2014 FA Cup semi-finals).
Converted penalty (93rd-minute game-winner) vs. Toulouse goalkeeper Ali Ahamada (penalty-saving expert):
Converted penalty vs. then-Nice (now Arsenal) goalkeeper David Ospina:
Converted penalty vs. Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama (Ligue 1's best goalkeeper, per L'Equipe):
Converted penalty (84th-minute game-winner) vs. Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic:
Penalty saved by Reims goalkeeper Kossi Agassa (85th minute, Reims won 1-0).
Unlike Arsenal summer signings Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy and Ospina, there is an "not applicable" tag when evaluating Mongongu at the highest level.
Wenger can justify signing an unproven right-back like Calum Chambers, 19, on upside. Meanwhile, at 25 years of age, Mongongu has not achieved anything noteworthy.
Breaking down Squawka's statistics, Vermaelen is superior to Mongongu in tackles won, clearances and aerial duels won per 90 minutes:
While Mongongu can be an interception machine, he is a weak tackler. He only completed 33 tackles in 34 Ligue 1 games last season.
In situations where Mongongu is unable to cut off passes, he has been exposed. Here, he was liable when Bordeaux forward Cheick Diabate scored:
Then-Montpellier (now Newcastle United) attacking midfielder Remy Cabella accelerated away from Mongongu with a swift step-over to score:
Speaking of Cabella, he more than doubled (2.0) Mongongu's tackles per game output (0.9).
If Vermaelen leaves Arsenal, Wenger needs to find the next Mehdi Benatia, as opposed to paying a premium for a Jeremy Mathieu-calibre player.
Márquez: "Mathieu doesn't have the profile to play for Barça" http://t.co/wGy9ymPGmp— MARCA in English (@MARCAinENGLISH) July 22, 2014
#Barcelona have agreed to pay €20m for France international (2 caps) Jeremy Mathieu. Crazy fee for a player nearly 31.— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) July 23, 2014
What do I mean by the next Mehdi Benatia? An undervalued centre-back who drops beneath the radar of Europe's superpower clubs.
Benatia's transfer stock has since gone through the ceiling, as he was the main reason why Roma conceded only 25 goals in 38 Serie A games.
If David Luiz is worth £50M then I'm sorry, but Benatia should be worth over €100M.— Ross Catanzariti (@bosco08) July 8, 2014
Mongongu flashed elite play from centre-back last season.
L'équipe type de la 12ème journée de Ligue 1 pic.twitter.com/LuDRv9x3A3— L'ÉQUIPE (@lequipe) November 4, 2013
L'équipe type de la 25ème journée de Ligue 1 pic.twitter.com/P1RlnKw4VJ— L'ÉQUIPE (@lequipe) February 17, 2014
Mongongu can go from strength to strength like Laurent Koscielny did at Arsenal.
Statistics via WhoScored.com