Throughout the summer, Arsenal have been linked with a succession of central midfielders. The fact that both Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are both hurtling toward veteran status has seen the club linked with a long line of players.
Another name can now be added to that list. According to French Radio Station RMC (h/t The Metro), Arsenal are pursuing a deal for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot.
Per The Metro report:
Arsenal have been given permission to hold transfer talks with Adrien Rabiot by the midfielder’s club Paris Saint Germain.
Rabiot has been strongly linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium in the last few weeks, and is available for transfer after turning down a new contract at the end of last season.
A left-footed and creative central midfielder, Rabiot has been followed by Arsenal for years and is regarded as one of the biggest talents in Ligue 1.
PSG are resigned to him leaving this summer and have put a £5.6million (€7million) price tag on his head.
When attempting to find a comparison for those who haven’t seen Rabiot play, one name springs immediately to mind. Rabiot is reminiscent of a former Arsenal great; he is eerily similar to legendary Gunner Emmanuel Petit.
Like Petit, Rabiot is a tall, upright and elegant midfielder with an eye for a pass. Like Petit, he’s left-footed. Rabiot shares his fellow Frenchman's capacity to fill in at both left-back and centre-back. He’s powerful too. Rabiot is not the sort to shirk the physicality of the Premier League. He is a combative and classy presence in the midfield.
Only a contractual dispute has led to him coming on to the market. Arsenal are now poised to be the beneficiaries of a fall-out between PSG and the player.
However, for all his qualities, Rabiot is not necessarily the player that Arsenal need. Arsenal already have a young player who can play at holding midfield and centre-back: Calum Chambers. Chambers was excellent on the opening day against Crystal Palace and is demonstrating that he could prove to be a snip at £16 million.
Despite his obvious talent, he will almost certainly make mistakes as he goes about learning his trade. Arsenal need someone who can offer experience and assurance in those roles. At 19, Rabiot is unable to do that.
If he is a player Arsene Wenger has earmarked as a star of the future, then perhaps this chance to snatch him away from PSG is simply too good to turn down. As a long-term investment, it could make sense. However, more is required in the short term. Arsenal must balance promise with proven quality.
If Rabiot does arrive, it must be in addition to someone who is ready to make a more immediate impact. Wenger must have an eye on the present as well as the future. For all Rabiot's excellence, he is not yet ready to take over Arteta's role in the team. Arsenal need a midfield maestro, not an apprentice.
James McNicholas is Bleacher Report’s lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2014/15 season. Follow him on Twitter here.
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