Manchester United legend Gary Neville has backed Arsenal’s Yaya Sanogo to develop into a first-rate striking option at the Emirates after witnessing him break his scoring duck in the 2-0 Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund.
Sanogo, 21, signed from Auxerre last summer, but his strike in midweek was his first for the Gunners in 19 appearances, with several injuries limiting his chances to impress in north London so far.
Expectations were raised going into this term following a four-goal outing against Benfica in the Emirates Cup in August, but a hamstring issue saw him fail to capitalise on Olivier Giroud’s absence through a broken leg.
The promising Frenchman was handed the start against Dortmund, however, with £16 million summer signing Danny Welbeck sidelined with a knee problem, and made an immediate impact by netting within the opening two minutes of the game.
Neville was impressed with what he saw on the night, and believes the Under-21 international possesses all the attributes to suggest a bright future is in store.
“He’s a young player and I think he [Wenger] believes in young talent,” he told Sky Sports. “If you remember a few years ago people said that Aaron Ramsey was a waste of time at Arsenal and look what happened to him in the following seasons.
“Danny Welbeck needed a rest, there’s no doubt about that, and I thought at times this boy [Sanogo] was a different proposition to Giroud.
He’s certainly more raw, but he gives them something they lack when Giroud plays. Giroud gives them a bit more control, but he’s certainly a real handful.
“He’ll get better, he’ll mature. He’s the type of player whose got the natural attributes – the speed, the strength, the physique. I’m not comparing him to Thierry Henry, but he’s a very raw 21-year-old; you’ve got to allow people to develop.
“Even Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United was very raw. You’ve got to allow them time to breath and grow.
“That’s what Sanogo needs. He just needs time to develop and he’ll become a good player.”
Sanogo unfortunately damaged his hamstring towards the end of Wednesday night’s game, and is now a doubt for the weekend’s trip to West Bromwich Albion.