Why Ligue 1 star Serge Aurier would be the perfect replacement for Bacary Sagna
News broke this morning that Arsenal had made an initial £7 million bid for Toulouse full-back Serge Aurier. The move will come as no surprise to most, partly because Arsenal have had their eye on Aurier since he was at RC Lens, but mainly because the player seems intent on letting everyone know via Twitter that he is desperate for the move.
It also comes as no great shock given that Bacary Sagna has recently revealed that he will be leaving Arsenal in the summer, following failed contract talks. With another player needed to compete with Carl Jenkinson, Arsene Wenger would appear to have given the green light for the club to move for Aurier. The question is whether Aurier represents a logical replacement for a player of Sagna’s stature.
Despite playing in the same position there are plenty of similarities and differences between the pair and it would be wise to examine where they are alike. The first key trait that they both share is versatility, both are equally happy across the whole of the back four and can play there to a strong enough degree to make them options worth considering. Interestingly, Aurier has also demonstrated this season in Alain Casanova’s 3-5-2 formation that he can play in a more advanced role, something which will be touched on in a bit.
As well as their versatility they are both excellent defensively, Aurier has won an impressive 84 tackles this season at a 66% success rate whilst Sagna is a bit further behind with 45 tackles at a 57% success rate. They’ve both won a high number of aerial duels for full-backs with Sagna winning 119 (success rate 67%) and Aurier winning 87 (success rate 61%). Both are good in the air for full-backs and are strong in the tackle. Additionally, neither are prone to rashness with just three defensive errors between them in nearly 70 league appearances this season.
However, when you start to examine their credentials higher up the pitch the differences become stark. This season alone, Serge Aurier has netted six league goals. By contrast that is more than Sagna has managed in his entire Arsenal career, not just league goals, overall. The Ivorian star has also weighed in with five assists to aid his team’s cause as part of 32 chances created. Sagna, meanwhile, has 21 created chances and just two assists. Perhaps most interestingly of all this season Sagna has attempted just 15 take ons, winning just eight. Incredibly, Aurier has attempted 93, winning 43 of those. He is much better offensively than Sagna and the defensive side of his game is growing all the time, meaning he is unlikely to be a defensive liability.
Arsenal fans are understandably upset about the prospect of losing Sagna but Aurier is a more than capable replacement. The full-back has been plying his trade in France waiting for his opportunity and it has finally arrived. Arsenal will find no hold-ups as far as the player is concerned they just need to agree a price with Toulouse. He will help fans forget about Sagna and give them renewed hope for the future, he is an exciting young player and there is no reason Wenger shouldn’t sign him.