Tag Archives: Christopher Nkunku

Arsenal Set For French Shopping Spree

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.

Christopher Nkunku

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

William Saliba

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.

Samuel Umtiti

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.

Adrien Rabiot

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.

Keenos

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Napoli, Christopher Nkunku and Sven Mislintat

Napoli

Tonight is the tough Europa League tie against Napoli.

The two sides faced each other in the Champions League back in 2013/14. Arsenal won the home game 2-0, Napoli the away game by the same scoreline.

Napoli are much improved since then and are comfortably the second best team in Italy behind Juventus.

Keeping a clean sheet will be just as important for Arsenal as scoring a goal tonight. A 0-0 is just a good a result as a 2-1 win with away goals still relevant in the Europa League (although no longer relevant in the Champions League).

Napoli have never beaten an English side away from home in Europe. There record reads P8 W0 D1 L7.

It will be a tough game tonight.

Christopher Nkunku

Arsenal target Christopher Nkunku has reportedly turned down a new contract with PSG.

The French youngster’s current deal runs out in 2020, opening the door for Arsenal to secure their man this summer for a reduced fee.

Back in January Arsenal were heavily linked with Nkunku for around £15million. Talk this morning is that it could take up to £30million to bring the versatile midfielder to London. This is vastly exaggerated taking into account his contract situation.

With Aaron Ramsey leaving in the summer, Arsenal are on the look out for someone who can replace his versatility and high energy game.

In January the club took Denis Suarez on loan from Barcelona with an option to buy him for £17.3 million at the end of the season. The Spaniard has struggled to break through at Arsenal and reports are the club have gone cold on moving for him in the summer.

This would leave Nkunku was the number one target to replace Aaron Ramsey at Arsenal – as long as the price is right.

The 21-year-old Frenchman will add something different to Ramsey going forward.

He is not quite as technical as Ramsey, but he is better at driving forward with the ball. He will certainly offer a different option if we are unable to pass our way through a team.

Nkunku’s versatility is also key.

This season he has played central midfield, behind the striker, on the wings and at right back for PSG. Being on the bench, he would offer Emery plenty of different options depending on the game situation.

This is one deal I expect us to get over the line this summer.

Sven Mislintat

Earlier this year “transfer guru” Sven Mislintat left Arsenal after just 14 months as Head of Recruitment.

Speculation was rife as to the reason for his departure.

Some said it was due to a falling out between himself and Raul Sanllehi, others said he felt marginalised due to Unai Emery’s growing influence. Some pointed to disagreements between himself and his scouts, whilst others talked about his frustration about transfer targets being over looked. Ultimately it was the most logical reason that was true.

Mislintat applied for Arsenal’s Technical Director role and was quickly rejected. Mislintat was unhappy, felt he was ready to step up to a more senior role, and resigned.

It happens all over the country in all industries.

An employee applies for an internal vacancy which will be a promotion, gets rejected, so looks for similar roles elsewhere.

The reason for the rejection was Mislintat lacked experience as a Technical Director – he had spent his entire career involved in scouting. It would have been a risk for a club the size of Arsenal to appoint someone who had no experience in such a big role.

Arsenal wanted someone who had done the job before, hence the approach for Spanish technical director Monchi.

Again you see this up and down the country in all industries.

Big companies often poach CEO’s, Managing Director’s or other high ranking staff from other companies rather than promote from within, unless the person within is only making a small promotion step.

Due to lack of experience, when Mislintat went out to the market, he probably found himself rejected by a lot of big clubs. The likes of Manchester United – also looking for a footballing director – were not interested. So he had to lower the standard of club he was targeting.

This had led him to take up the role of Sporting Director at VfB Stuggart.

Like many, due to lack of experience, Mislintat has had to take a role at a smaller club. A bit like someone taking a bigger role at a smaller company. The idea being that he then gains the experience at a smaller club, and then when a similar role at someone like Bayern Munich comes up, he will have the experience on his CV.

Stuttgart are currently in the Bundesliga relegation zone, which highlights just how low Mislintat has had to look to get the position he wants.

Keenos

Guendouzi OUT, Rabiot, Nkunku + £42m IN

Matteo Guendouzi has been a fantastic signing.

Signed for just £7million last summer, it is easy to forget that he is just 18-year-old and had just 8 Ligue 1 appearances to his name.

The original plan would probably have been to use him at 6th choice central midfielder, behind Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira, Aaron Ramsey, Mo Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The World Cup and some injuries saw him got some early game time and he has not looked back.

His form has led to speculation that PSG are considering a bid this summer.

I have spoken before about how Liverpool have been able to build a title winning squad by buying low, selling high and reinvesting that in more players. Over the last 5 seasons, they have bought in over £200m more in player sales than Arsenal. This has enable them to sign Allisson, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah.

When you compare that to Arsenal who have lost about £200m in player sales over that period due to contracts and underselling players – think Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Wojech Szczesny & Serge Gnabry – it leads us to the situation which we are now in. Liverpool 2nd, Arsenal 5th.

I have blogged previously that Arsenal will need to take a risk. Perhaps sell Lucas Torreira for big money and reinvest that on 3 or 4 players.

£60million for Matteo Guendouzi is huge money for a player with half a good season, and Arsenal should seriously consider it.

PSG have previously had problems filling their “home-grown” quota for the Champions League.

With the mega rich oil-financed club recruiting the worlds best players, this has often been at the detriment over French talent.

This has led to PSG signing the likes of Lassana Diarra, Hatem Ben Arfa, Benjamin Stambouli and Yohan Cabaye in recent years.

Despite France being current World Champions, very few of the national teams top players came from PSG.

With Adrien Rabiot, Christopher Nkunku and Lassana Diarra set to leave them in the summer, they will be left with just 4 senior French players in their squad.

This means they will need to go out to the market and recruit French, which in return will see premium price tags put on French players akin to what happens in England with English players.

Guendouzi would be an ideal signing for PSG.

He is one of the best young midfielders in world football. PSG would be signing him knowing that he has the potential to become a first team regular at the highest level – and not just to make up the numbers like Diarra, Ben Arfa et al.

He would be the perfect replacement for Rabiot.

Not only is Guendouzi French, he is Parisian.

Born in Poissy, an outer suburb of France, Guendouzi joined the PSG academy at the age of 6. He left Paris to join Lorient’s academy in 2014.

PSG fans will be wondering why they let such a talent out of their door at 15-years-old.

With the premium PSG will pay on French players, Guendouzi’s potential, and him being Paris-born. a fee in the region of £60million would not be too far from the truth – remember they spent £144million signing another Paris born teenager – Kylian Mbappe.

So should Arsenal take it? My heart might say no but my head says yes.

Let us paint a kick picture.

Arsenal sell Guendouzi for £60million. We then recruit two of the French central midfielders that PSG are set to lose this summer – Rabiot and Nkunku.

Rabiot is available on a free this summer and is a better player than Guendouzi.

They are very similar in the way they play (and look), but with Rabiot being 4-years Guendouzi’s senior, he is the more polished player. Closer to the finished article.

Guendouzi has the potential to be better than Rabiot, but we would be trading a player with a handful of appearances for someone with well over 200.

In January, Arsenal were also heavily linked with Christopher Nkunku for £18 million.

Were we to secure both Rabiot and Nkunku we would be improving our first XI and signing a talented youngster for the future. We would also be £42million up on the deal.

Sou would making the deal make sense?

Keenos