When Arsene Wenger left Arsenal in 2018, you would think the days of the club shopping in France, or buying French players had come to an end.
In the two transfer windows under Sven Mislintat’s eye, Arsenal looked at Germany, at players that Mislintat knew. The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Sokratis, Kostadinos Mavropanos and Bernd Leno.
With Unai Emery, Raul Sanllehi and Francis Cagigao running things now, you would have thought Arsenal would be focusing on the Spanish market. But this summer it seems Arsenal are back shopping on the other side of the English Channel.
The team already has a Gaelic feel, with Laurent Koscielny, Matteo Guendouzi, Alexandre Lacazette and French-born Aubameyang and having managed in France for 2 years, Emery would have extensive scouting reports of Ligue 1
With France having won the last World Cup and having some of the most exciting playhers in the world coming through, it is perhaps sensible that Arsenal are returning to a market they know well.
So who are the French or Ligue 1 based players Arsenal are looking at?
Alexis Claude Maurice
Arsenal could well return to Lorient this summer following the acquisition of Matteo Guendouzi last to sign French forward Alexis Claude Maurice.
Our friends over at GunnersTown wrote about the youngster back in January and he comes highly recommended.
It seems like Arsenal are looking beyon the more established wingers in France – the likes of Nicolas Pepe and Ismael Sarr – and are looking at the next generation.
Part of that next generation is Charles Nkunku was Unai Emery would have worked with whilst at PSG.
Arsenal were linked with him in January. A late deal fell through at the last.
Versatility is the key with Nkunku, with him having played in Ligue 1 in midfield, attack and defence. A French Ainsley Maitland Niles. Could be a good asset to add in the middle of the park alongside Niles, Geundouzi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira
Arsenal are also looking to France for a long term replacement for Laurent Koscielny.
18-year-old St Etienne defender is reportedly top of the list, although the £26million I have seen quoted does seem a lot for a player with only a handful of appearances.
St Etienne reportedly want to sell but be loaned the player back for next season.
25-year-old Samuel Umtiti is reportedly on the way out of Barcelona, with Arsenal and Manchester United leading the way.
The French central defender has been plagued by injured and lost his starting place for Barcelona earlier this last season.
He is a proven international class defender, but there have to be question marks over those knees.
Ibrahima Konaté & Dayot Upamecano
Arsenal have been linked with RB Leipzig pair Ibrahima Konaté & Dayot Upamecano already this summer.
The pair sit between Saliba and Umtiti in terms of experience.
Upamecano is a little more experienced, with Konaté perhaps being a little more talented. There is not much to split them.
The last man on this list is someone we have been linked with for what feels like a decade.
Despite having been around forever, Rabiot is still only 24.
Emery is reportedly targeting a box to box midfielder to compete alongside Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira.
Having worked with Emery before, and available on a free transfer, Rabiot could be a good replacement for Aaron Ramsey (the defensive side of his game at least).
He has had a troublesome couple of years and his attitude left him to miss out on a potential World Cup medal. But he is a talent.
It would not surprise me to see Arsenal sign at least two from this list over the summer.
I suspect we’ll be shopping in the ‘bargain bin’ for the foreseeable….I’d give away Ozil for nothing….he’s not a Premiership player.