When you look back at Arsene Wenger’s transfer record at Arsenal, there are plenty of names that stand out as reasons for the French manager’s enduring reputation as one of the shrewdest men in the business when it comes to signing the right players for his side.
Patrick Vieira, who Wenger urged the club to buy even before his appointment at Arsenal, is perhaps second only to Thierry Henry in terms of successful signings at the Gunners. Vieira cost only £3.5 million, and went on to become the core of the side that won three Premier Leagues including the invincible season.
Now Arsenal might be looking to sign the player that has been dubbed the “new Vieira”. Gilbert Imbula, who plays for French Ligue 2 side Guingamp, has been rated at £8 million, and might be viewed as the perfect man to back up the injury magnet that is Abou Diaby in Arsenal’s midfield.
Chelsea have been the club most strongly linked with Imbula so far this month, though Lyon are also thought to be interested in the player. Like Arsenal, Chelsea lack cover in their defensive midfield, and have had to rely on David Luiz filling in since Oriol Romeu was ruled out for the season with injury.
However given their history, Arsenal would seem the natural destination for Imbula were he to come to England, and the player might also view his chances of first team football to be greater at the Emirates. With Mikel Arteta currently injured, Diaby always on the brink of picking up a knock and Francis Coquelin not wholly convincing for a regular starting spot, Imbula could find himself a fixture in the Arsenal side far sooner than he would be given the opportunity to at Stamford Bridge.
£8 million is a steep fee for a 20 year old yet to play above Ligue 2 level, and whist it is an indication of the potential he has already shown, it would also be a gamble given that more experienced players like Mohamed Diame and Moussa Sissoko are rumoured to be available for less than half that price.
However if Imbula does develop as expected, spending £8 million now could come to be viewed as excellent business, and if Arsene Wenger does rate the youngster, the odds are he is worth the outlay.