Marcel Brands must sign Stade de Reims striker Boulaye Dia for Carlo Ancelotti in the January transfer window amid claims Arsenal and Everton will battle for his services.
According to Le10 Sport, the Gunners and Toffees are on the hunt for offensive reinforcements in the mid-season market and have cast their attention toward Ligue 1.
Dia had been granted permission to leave Reims in the summer but chose to remain with David Guion’s side, with the moves on offer failing to meet his expectations amid interest from Olympique de Marseille.
Marseille have tracked Dia for more than a year and continue to closely evaluate the 24-year-old’s situation, in case manager Andre Villas-Boas decides teen prospect Luis Henrique is not the answer and looks to sign a new number nine in January.
Olympique Lyonnais have also thrown their hat into the ring for a potential winter move should either of Memphis Depay or Moussa Dembele leave, with Dia currently enjoying a career season at the Stade Auguste-Delaune.
Dia has struck eight goals in 12 Ligue 1 games thus far this season as Reims battle the threat of relegation, his best return to date having fired home a previous high of seven in 24 top-flight fixtures last term.
He now boasts 21 goals across all competitions since breaking into the Reims first-team in 2018, and is bound to be on the move sooner rather than later as his stock continues to grow.
Dia is clearly a young forward with great determination to forge a successful career in the game, having turned his nose up to potential moves away from Reims in the summer as they did not meet his expectations.
Dia explained in an interview with L’Equipe that he chose to remain at the Stade Auguste-Delaune for the sporting projects put to him were underwhelming compared to his ambitions.
“I had an exit voucher, but it was not an obligation,” Dia said. “I had always said that you should not leave to leave. You need a clear and precise objective, a sporting project which correlates with my ambitions. Putting money first is the wrong choice for me.”
One of the potential options for Dia to explore in the summer, he confirmed, was Brighton and Hove Albion, who held tentative talks with Reims over the striker who would like to one day experience playing in the Premier League.
“Yes, there is a little truth to the Brighton story, but an agreement couldn’t be reached between the clubs,” Dia told Get French Football News. “There were discussions, but it didn’t go any further. I’d like to experience England and the Premier League – all players dream of playing in the Premier League one day, and I’m one of those players.”
Dia’s grit has been on show throughout his career, having had to overcome some sizable hurdles at a young age when told he was too small to make it in Lyon’s academy.
“I went there almost every Wednesday over a few years but then at 13, I think, they did a wrist test to assess future growth and told me that I wouldn’t grow much – because I was quite small at the time – that I wouldn’t get much taller and so I didn’t fit the profile that they were looking for,” he added.
“I was really pleased to be able to do trials there regularly, and hoped to be accepted into the youth set-up. I would have been really pleased. But that’s life, you move onto other things.”
Ancelotti will no doubt enjoy working with a young forward with Dia’s level of determination, should Brands reach an agreement with Reims to sign the 5 ft 10 striker in January.