Arsenal 'close' to signing the next Thierry Henry…for free?

France Football

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed the club are ‘close’ to signing young Auxerre striker Yaya Sanogo.

"It is in advanced stages but it is not done," Wenger revealed, when asked about the deal on Friday morning.

"I'm very confident. He is a big talent."

The 20-year-old Frenchman is one the most exciting prospects in France at youth level and in his style and tenacity bares a striking resemblance to a young Thierry Henry. His overhead kick goal scored against England U21s for France aptly demonstrates the incredible raw talent he possesses.

Sanogo would be a very typical Arsene Wenger signing – firstly, he's French, secondly, he’s young and third, he’s very very good. Technically, there is probably only one or two young players in France who have the kind of ability level he does – Yassine Benzia and Alexandre Lacazette are the two that spring to mind – but what makes him the archetypal Wenger buy is his price – he’s about to sign on a free transfer.

The young striker has rejected a new deal with French second tier side Auxerre where he has been developing since the age of 13. His record for France at youth level is exceptional – he averages a goal every 1.5 games. He has yet to make the step up to senior level and I would suspect that would be weighing on his mind, as he looks for pastures new.

Any young French player looking to impress the national team coach Didier Deschamps would be advised to sign for Arsene Wenger – in his homeland, there is no higher seal of approval given the Gunners boss’ track record with French talent.

His current contract with Auxerre expires next summer in 2013 but Wenger has revealed they are working on hashing out the deal that will bring him to the Emirates and it is expected he will be unveiled as an Arsenal signing imminently.

Recently Sanogo managed 8 goals in seven games in the French second division and is in fine form but he has yet to be tested at the highest level and that will be something Wenger will be able to offer him. He is a diamond in the rough at present and will need time to adjust and develop but, given Wenger’s track record, I would expect the youngster to be given a run out over the course of the next year.

What’s most remarkable about this deal is that Arsenal will pay nothing for a player who, in the next two or three seasons, could very well become the next France superstar striker in the image of Thierry Henry.

Considering of the vast sums of money being thrown around the continent at present, this deal, if and when it goes through, could prove to be the best bit of business of the summer not just for Arsenal but across the board. Only time will tell but if Yaya Sanogo joins Arsenal this summer, he will have the perfect platform to develop into one of the best strikers in Europe.

images: © Ronnie Macdonald, © korobukkuru

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