Are Arsenal lining up Vrsaljko as Sagna replacement?

Genoa manager Gian Piero Gasperini has revealed Arsenal are hopeful of signing gifted young Croatian fullback Sime Vrsaljko.

There had been talk this summer that Bacary Sagna, Arsenal’s first-choice right-back and one of the Gunners longest serving senior players could be lured back to his homeland France and, with his contract expiring next summer, boss Arsene Wenger may be inclined to line up a replacement.

Then it looked as though the 30-year-old might be inclined to stay at the Emirates after all and the word was that he was open to negotiating the terms of a new contract after rejecting previous attempts from the club to tie his future down.

Paris-Saint Germain and Monaco had both been linked with interest in Sagna and with Carl Jenkinson still only 21 years old and learning his trade as the Frenchman’s understudy, Wenger will likely have considered alternatives.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Sime Vrsaljko, one of the most gifted young fullbacks in Europe, transferred this July from Dinamo Zagreb where he had been developed since age 14 in his native Croatia for whom he had already been capped as senior international after making his debut at 19.

He moved to Serie A where he has been continuing his development under Gasperini’s watchful eye and the coach is more than a little reluctant to let him go so soon after acquiring him but he did reveal the Gunners are in fact in pursuit.

"They [Arsenal] want him, but this January? We need all our players available. It is important everyone stays together," he told Sky Sports Italia.

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However, it would appear the player’s agent, Nikky Vuksan, is perhaps a little more open to the idea than the Genoa manager.

"Playing for Genoa is an honour for him and he's very happy here. Will he leave in January or June? It's hard to say now because it's up to the club," is what he told TuttoMercatoWeb.

From the sounds of the sound-bites, it seems as though Arsenal have locked their gaze on young Vrsaljko as their next transfer target and, provided they compensate Genoa generously enough, they could very well bring the Croatian to England which makes one wonder what the future holds for Bacary Sagna.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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