Scouting Report: Is Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro Perfect for Arsenal?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentMay 30, 2014

Marseille's French defender Benjamin Mendy, right, challenges for the ball with Toulouse's French defender Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro, during their League One soccer match, at the Velodrome Stadium, in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Claude Paris/Associated Press

Could Toulouse utility player Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro be a summer transfer window target for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger?

To cover that hypothetical, here is a scouting report on the 21-year-old Ivorian international. 

Positives

Akpa-Akpro is a 5'11", 150-pound footballer, who is a team-first player.

He brings versatility and is tactically flexible having played a multitude of positions in various formations. 

PositionFormation
  
RB4-1-4-1
CB4-5-1
LB4-1-4-1
RWB3-5-2
LWB3-5-2
DM4-1-4-1
  

Source: Ligue1.com.

Source: Ligue1.com.

Akpa-Akpro is mobile, rapidly closes down opposing players and has proven to be an aggressive tackler.

Source: Squawka.com.

Source: Squawka.com.

Source: Squawka.com.
 Tackles Per GameFouls Per GameTackles Per FoulInterceptions Per GamePossessions Won Back Per Game
      
Bacary Sagna [1]1.70.72.51.53.2
Carl Jenkinson1.00.42.30.41.4
Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro2.41.41.71.64
Kieran Gibbs2.40.63.81.94.3
Nacho Monreal1.30.52.61.12.4
      

[1] Leaving Arsenal, per L'Equipe (h/t Sky Sports). 


Akpa-Akpro's ball-winning ability is why he has played every position at the back under Toulouse manager Alain Casanova. 

Akpa-Akpro has displayed potential going forward.

His athleticism and sense of timing are reasons why he finds himself in advantageous positions, as evident when not one single Sochaux player tracked his deep run. 

Source: Ligue1.com.

Akpa-Akpro latched on to Toulouse centre-forward Martin Braithwaite's pass, burst past Nantes centre-back Gabriel Cichero and placed the ball past Nantes goalkeeper Remy Riou.

Source: Ligue1.com.

Against Bordeaux, Akpa-Akpro made a high-percentage play. 

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He got in behind Bordeaux's defence, held on to the ball, dragged then Bordeaux centre-back Henrique (has since quit the club) out of position and played in Braithwaite. 

That was on the right flank. 

Source: Ligue1.com.

On the left flank, Akpa-Akpro delivered an incisive cross into the path of Toulouse centre-forward Wissam Ben Yedder. 

Source: Ligue1.com.

Negatives

Akpa-Akpro has no set position and risks being pigeon-holed as a jack of all trades, master of none type of footballer, as was the case with Emmanuel Eboue.

"He's [Eboue is] a multi-functional player," Wenger said, per the Guardian. "He normally plays centre-back, but he can play-right back or midfield."

Akpa-Akpro was not an undisputed starter for Toulouse.

Source: Squawka.com.

Akpa-Akpro is still a work in progress and Toulouse believe in him having extended his contract last month to 2017, per FIFA.com.

It would be beneficial to Akpa-Akpro's career if he played three more seasons of regular Ligue 1 football before making the jump to a major club such as Arsenal.

Bottom Line

What about Toulouse right-back/right wing-back/centre-back Serge Aurier?

Aurier is a superb footballer and Akpa-Akpro is nowhere near as talented. 

Well, neither was Pablo Zabaleta at Espanyol when you compared him to Dani Alves at Sevilla.

Zabaleta was described as a "team-minded centre midfielder, [who] impressed in defence and attack [and was] dangerous in front of goal," by the FIFA technical study group at the 2005 World Youth Championships, per FIFA.com

Source: FIFA.com.

Zabaleta put in the hard yards at Espanyol, signed with City and is now one of the best right-backs in Europe, despite being a promising central midfielder at the World Youth Championships. 

Akpa-Akpro can work his way to the top, like Zabaleta.

Here is an idea for Wenger: Sign both Akpa-Akpro and Aurier.

Aurier is a player with world-class potential and Akpa-Akpro is a positive-thinking utility player, who would be a great presence in the Arsenal squad. 

You know what the bonus is? They are close friends.

Source: Ligue1.com.

Source: Ligue1.com.

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