Like many other football fans blessed with a PC in their youth, I grew up spending hour upon hour playing Championship Manager. Today's youth will be more familiar with Football Manager, but the same principle applies. Now every fan thinks he can do the job better than professionally qualified gurus that reside in the hot seats of our beloved clubs.
Racking my brains, I came up with a candidate that may surprise some people, but before you completely dismiss my idea, let's take a closer look.
Sebastien Bassong: Fact-File
- Age: 23
- Position: Left-Sided Centre Back
- Current Club: Newcastle United
- National Side: Represented France at U-21 level
Sebastien Bassong graduated from the prestigious Clairefontaine youth academy in France, before moving to FC Metz and advancing through the youth ranks. Bassong broke into the senior side in 2005 and represented Metz for three seasons, making 87 appearances, before being transferred to Newcastle United, following a trial, for a fee of £1.5m.
The Clairefontaine youth academy, "the Mecca of French football", is well established as one of the best in world football. Former graduates include: Nicolas Anelka, William Gallas, Thierry Henry, Louis Saha, as well as players with Arsenal links, including Jeremie Aliadiere and Abou Diaby. Other interesting graduates include starlets Hatem Ben Arfa and Blaise Matuidi.
Bassong is first and foremost a powerful and committed defender with outstanding athleticism and a good reading of the game. His height, at 6'2”, would be a helpful asset to Arsenal and the former Metz man is commanding in the air. Additionally, Bassong has good positional awareness and anticipates danger well, he is composed in possession and could grow into a complete defender at Arsenal.
Sebastien Bassong to Arsenal: Pros and Cons
- He has undoubted raw talent, and is at an age that Wenger could effectively mould him into the complete package.
- Young, French and gifted...why wouldn't Arsenal want to sign him?
- Considering Newcastle's relegation, Arsenal could possibly grab him for £6m-£8m if a straight cash offer was put on the table.
- Bassong offers everything Arsenal need in a defender; power, ambition, height, physical dominance, and composure.
- His signature would ensure Arsenal had four high quality options at CB.
- Signing Bassong could be a cost effective way to reinforce midfield, if Kolo Toure was moved into the defensive midfield role.
- He would love to play for Arsenal and is a hugely committed player both on and off the pitch. This is the kind of character needed in the Arsenal dressing room.
- He is fairly inexperienced, having made no senior international appearances and has only played one Premier League season at Newcastle United.
- He has been relegated twice in his fledgling career, in consecutive seasons, first at FC Metz in 2007-08, then at Newcastle in 2008-09.
- His wages at Newcastle are reputed to be between £5k-£10k a week, meaning the Magpies wouldn't be in financial straits if they kept him for another season.
- Arsenal already have six centre-backs on the books: William Gallas, Kolo Toure, Mikael Silvestre, Thomas Vermaelen, Philippe Senderos, and Johan Djourou.
- Whatever transfer money Arsenal have left should probably be invested into a natural defensive midfielder.
- His signing wouldn't inspire confidence in supporters, considering his inexperience and the reputation of his former club.
- Arsenal already have two high quality left-sided centre backs in Gallas and Vermaelen.
Despite his undoubted quality and massive potential, the odds are against Bassong signing for Arsenal this summer. It was probably a case of either Bassong or Vermaelen for Wenger, with Vermaelen's European experience swinging the argument in his favour.
The list of cons is fairly long, but if Senderos was moved on then Bassong could be bought for a similar amount. Bassong's strengths far outweigh any that Senderos provides.
Realistically, Bassong will either sign a new contract with Newcastle or will move on to a Europa League challenging side, such as Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur.