Arsenal Transfer Prospect: Does Armand Traore Have a Future Under Arsene Wenger?

Callum D'SouzaSenior Writer IMarch 29, 2011

TURIN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 13: (UEFA-OUT)  Armand Traore of Juventus FC during the Serie A match between Juventus and Roma at Olimpico Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Since Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger arrived in North London in 1996, kicking off his superb and ongoing era, the Gunners have always boasted and been renowned for formidable depth at left back.

The Frenchman is blessed with an efficient eye to discover and develop quality left backs, something that probably stems from his playing days when Wenger himself was a sweeper/left back.

Lee Dixon thrived under Wenger's guidance when the Frenchman first arrived, before Ashley Cole was nurtured and eventually became one of the best left backs in World Football. After the Englishman departed in 2006, Frenchman Gael Clichy stepped up after Wenger had developed him from a fresh-faced 18-year-old.

Clichy has maintained the first-choice role ever since and is now regarded as one of the best left backs in the English Premier League—as well as being one of the senior members of a young Arsenal squad.

However, after nine years in North London, there is talk that the French international is set to depart the Emirates with the likes of Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Juventus all offering both Arsenal and Clichy big money.

It may seem like a huge blow to lose the last remaining Invincibles member—not to mention, a strong, renowned left back.

However, the departure of Clichy will be mitigated somewhat by the presence of Kieran Gibbs, Clichy's deputy. The Englishman has been a solid, reliable left back when called upon during limited opportunities.

The 21-year-old's efforts over the past three seasons, which have stemmed from injury, have resulted in Gibbs acquiring international football status after he was selected in the England National Squad last year.

Should Clichy depart in the upcoming summer, many will predict the elevation of Gibbs to the starting position. However, the question over who his deputy is would have to be raised.

Clichy's contract debate has shined new light on young and much maligned left back Armand Traore. The Frenchman is currently on loan with Italian giants Juventus, a possible destination for Clichy.

The 21-year-old has been at Arsenal since 2006 after arriving from French giants Auxerre. Traore has shown glimpses of being a promising prospect, thanks to impressive speed, agility and deceptive strength.

The French under-21 star enjoyed an excellent loan spell with Portsmouth during 2008-09, where the Frenchman proved he was capable of playing in the EPL after 19 appearances and one goal.

Last season, however, Traore was forced to take on a permanent role during the opening stages of the season, where at times the young gun looked overawed and out of place despite some good performances.

After it became clear that Wenger had loaned Traore to Juventus for the whole season, it seemed the Frenchman was surplus to requirements at the Emirates and the loan was more of a trial for Traore. Despite suffering a frustrating injury during the early part of the campaign, recent months have seen Traore feature more prominently for the Zebras.

In 10 appearances in Serie A, Traore has exhibited some strong performances, highlighting both his defensive calibre and attacking prowess. It is unclear whether or not Juventus will aim to sign Traore permanently in the summer or have the Frenchman return to the Emirates.

As previously stated, the Gunners do have sufficient left back depth with another loan prodigy returning to the first-team next season. Pedro Botelho has been forced to endure three loan spells in Spain due to the Football Association's repeated refusal to grant him a work permit.

In stints at UD Salamanca, Celta Vigo and now Cartagena, the 21-year-old has consistently shown great promise as a left back and left winger. Wenger also has boom youngster Thomas Cruise, who is highly touted in the Arsenal academy.

However, none boast sufficient EPL experience, particularly compared to Traore, whose impact would be invaluable for the Gunners.

Either way, does Armand Traore have a future at Arsenal?


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