With the Gunners’ 31-year-old right back Bacary Sagna edging ever-closer to the exit at the Emirates, Arsenal are linked with 19-year-old Ivory Coast international Serge Aurier.
He looks increasingly likely to be the Frenchman’s replacement, but how do the youngster’s stats compare to Sagna’s?
Aurier made 34 appearances for Toulouse in Ligue 1 last season, which is the same number as Sagna made in the Premier League for Arsenal. Sagna scored one goal and made two assists, which is no more than expected of a full-back but is some distance behind Aurier’s impressive tally of six goals and six assists.
The young man certainly provides a threat in terms of the chances he scores and creates – he has averaged 1.7 shots per game this term on average to Sagna’s 0.5 with a finishing accuracy rate of 39%.
However, attacking is not necessarily what you want your right back to be focused on primarily and Sagna’s pass completion rate is higher at 85.3% compared Aurier’s 76.9% so there is certainly scope for the youngster to develop and improve in that capacity.
Of course the primarily area of interest will be his defensive capabilities, especially in a league such as the Premier League where the abundance of danger men requires not only competence but excellence.
Sagna won 3.5 aerial duels per game on average last term to Aurier’s 2.7 on average and the Frenchman committed fewer fouls (which ultimately led to free kicks against) with an average of 0.7 conceded per game to Aurier’s 1.1 conceded per game.
However, the Toulouse fullback made more tackles with 2.2 per game to Sagna’s 1.7 and more interceptions too, on average 2.2 to Sagna’s 1.5.
Sagna made more clearances, 5 per game on average to Aurier’s 3 and he was dribbled past marginally less often by attackers than the youngster, 0.4 times per game to Aurier’s 0.6 times per game but Aurier blocked marginally more shots, 0.3 to Sagna’s 0.2 per game on average.
Although Aurier’s pass completion rate was lower than Sagna’s, the Ivorian put in a substantially greater number of crosses, 1.1 per game on average to Sagna’s 0.5 per game and actually made a slightly higher number of key passes per game, 0.9 per game to Sagna’s 0.6 per game.
The stats aren’t everything but, of course, they give a good initial indication of performance level and consistency and I very much believe that Serge Aurier would be a very important signing for Arsenal.
Replacing Sagna is a very difficult task for manager Arsene Wenger but I believe this youngster would be a very astute signing who has the potential to be better than the soon-to-be departed Frenchman who has been with the club eight years.
Aurier offers a greater threat going forward, of that there is little doubt, and, with work on the training ground, I have no reason to believe his passing accuracy can improve to match the Arsenal average across the team which currently sits around 86%.
Defensively he is not that far behind Sagna, at least not as far behind as Carl Jenkinson is currently and I think the competition between the two youngsters will motivate them both to improve over the next few seasons should Aurier sign, as I think Jenkinson would feel he has the opportunity to rival him for the position more than he has been able to rival Sagna.
The main area of contention will be a likely and necessary period of adaptation to the intensity of the Premier League which, in my opinion, is slightly ahead of the French top tier but I do believe the levels of physicality are somewhat similar and I think that will bode well for the young fullback should he make his move across the Channel.