Yet another Frenchman dreams of Arsenal move

Emmanuel Rivière is attracting interest across Europe. The Saint-Etienne striker has come to people’s attention after a decent season in Ligue 1. A whole host of French clubs are keeping tabs on Riviere, and closer to home, Arsenal have reportedly had the 20-year-old on their radar.

Young, French, pacey, forward come winner, Arsenal have been here before. That said, Thierry Henry was of slighter higher stock. By the time Henry joined the Gunners he was 22 and had five years at Monaco and six months in Serie A under his belt, he had made his debut for France two years earlier and had won a World Cup. Henry was unhappy at Juventus and Wenger was fully aware that if he could get the best out of him, Arsenal would have a great on their hands. This was a case of Wenger identifying a target and getting his man. With Riviere however, the desire seems to be a little more in the other direction.

Riviere was quoted as saying:

“Arsenal would be the jewel in the crown for me. They play a fast-moving, attacking style of football, and they’re always shooting on goal. It’s fantastic. I respect Thierry Henry for who he is, he has always inspired me.”

Arsenal have not been as open about any attempts to sign the player. It is almost taken for granted that any young starlet or prospect of the Gallic persuasion would be already known to Wenger and his scouts, you get the feeling that if Riviere was really something worth getting their hands on, they would have done already: Sagna, Clichy and Diaby are all young members of the current French squad who have been at Arsenal for many years already.

Although Riviere has only had one major season so far – last year he was nominated for the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year – eight goals and three assists in 30 appearances doesn’t sound electrifying. Saint-Etienne originally spotted him as a 15-year-old, playing in a tournament hosted by the prestigious Clairefontaine academy, where they won the battle to sign him over Lyon and PSG because of their illustrious history. He has been a regular for France at every age group from the under-16s and upwards, and surely this would be prime Wenger browsing? It is only after a full top flight season that the ears of some bigger clubs have begun to prick up. Shalke and Hoffenheim are admirers of Riviere, as well as a number of French clubs including Toulouse, PSG and Auxerre.

Signing Riviere would seem a strange thing for Wenger to do. While the player may be talented, he is still very much a rough diamond, and at 20 should really have progressed a little more. Strikers not Arsenal’s priority at the moment: unless young Emmanuel can don a pair of goalkeeping gloves, he should not be in Wenger’s thoughts at the moment. No sooner has the rumour mill got bored of retyping Loic Remy over, and over, and over again, have they stumbled across another French striker with aspirations of greater things to come. If Riviere didn’t originate form Martinique, like Henry does, there may not be the same hype surrounding him.

Verdict: Good business for Arsenal if it stays simply as a rumour.

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