You could hear the groans from the Arsenal support when the reports came through that the club were wrapping up a deal for Auxerre striker Yaya Sanogo. Same old Arsenal; going in for the youngsters or the unknowns, or, in this case, both.
But what is Arsene Wenger supposed to do? If it had been thought that Arsenal were about to miss out on a highly-rated youngster, there would be furious demands for “Wenger Out.” If he opts to add the youngster to his squad, it’s seen as a pathetic attempt to strengthen an important area of the pitch. He can’t win.
But honestly, who would be foolish enough to believe that the impending signing of Yaya Sanogo is a sign of things to come? Here is a player who arrives without much of a gamble considering it’s a free transfer, and with plenty of upside to his game, where is the problem?
The reports from France seem to indicate that Arsenal are onto a talent who has the makings of a very good player. Let’s not get carried away, however. French striker does not equate the next Thierry Henry. Wenger, however, will be keen to continue the process of developing young players while still elevating to the next level in the market. It’s really difficult to see this as anything other than a low-risk move away from the high profile signings that are sure to arrive this summer.
And that’s what this team need. It makes perfect sense to add a 20-year-old forward who could be ready for the Premier League in his first season in England. The priority is to bring in a forward who is unquestionably better than what Arsenal currently have, but depth is also important. What Arsenal stand to gain from this is the likelihood of five forwards competing for the lone striker role.
There is reason for the alarm bells to start ringing. Sanogo has recently returned from a lengthy spell out injured following a broken leg. Arsenal have been down this path before, and the fact that the Frenchman hails Abou Diaby as one of his heroes is even more reason for concern. But there are positives: Sanogo has returned and more or less picked up where he left off. He remains a threat in front of goal and has shown few signs of long lasting mental or physical damage. Once again, it all equates to a low-risk move by Arsenal.
A fair assessment of the player would also be to suggest that he is physically readymade for the Premier League. At 6’3, there should be little doubts about his strength. Combined with his goal scoring instincts, Arsenal could be setting themselves up for a huge return.
Well what about the lack of obvious interest from other clubs? The fact that Sanogo has made it clear that there is interest from other clubs but that he chose Arsenal also sits well. After all, provided this transfer turns out well for the club, isn’t this the kind of transfer Arsenal should look to supplement big money signings? At this stage and even with the benefit of enormously healthy revenue streams, Arsenal may not want to pursue the extravagant spending avenue every year. Bayern have done so up until recently, and clubs like Dortmund and Porto are persistently scouring the globe for talents who could benefit their clubs.
Another positive to take from this is that Arsenal are willing to take gambles. Regardless of Sanogo’s injury history, you can be sure that Wenger is confident of the player’s talent and potential range. Yes, there is only the matter of a compensation fee to Auxerre due to the player’s age, but you have to ask whether Wenger is as comfortable as he once was at Arsenal? Can he afford to make costly slips in the league in the final season of his current contract? The board are reportedly willing the manager to spend ambitiously. But Arsenal wouldn’t bring in this youngster if they didn’t believe there to be plenty of upside.
It’s possible that a lot can be taken from this transfer within the coming seasons, yet I most certainly would not view it as one to set the tone for the rest of this summer.
JOIN OUR LIVE BLOG FROM THE CHAMPIONS FESTIVAL BELOW