The Ultimate Guide To The Man Arsenal Want To Replace Sagna
Last week I gave you a hipster player, an opportunity for a bravura display knowing of football insight and the kudos earned by a Postinger-like appreciation of the breadth and depth of European starlets. Guess what? I’m going to do it again.
Once more, you can throw a Danish national team 09/10 season jersey-clad elbow on the bar, wave your microbrew beer around and regale the lesser cognoscenti with this week’s Hipster Footballer of the Week. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Toulouse’s Serge Aurier.
Now, if you play a little bit of Football Manager and, let’s face it, if there’s a better way to delve into the opaque corners of world football than the geekfest game I don’t know it, you’ll be aware of wonderkid Serge.
Toulouse have a good record of retaining possession, currently fifth in Ligue 1, and they are adept at winning possession back high up the pitch in their opponent’s half.
Can they kick it? Yes, but with only a modicum of control, as they’ve garnered a stonking sixty-five yellow cards and four reds (only Montpellier, currently in a very disappointing fifteenth given that they won the league in 2011/12, have a worse disciplinary record – kind of a Sunderland but with an added dose of unlikely recent success).
Despite suspensions galore, Toulouse have a very settled first eleven, a significant reason for their current good record and style of play. Central to this is Serge Aurier, a bristling defender who can play anywhere across the back four. Currently nestling in as a centre-half, he started life at Lens as a dynamic full-back with a penchant for haring forward.
He can also play in a screening defensive midfielder role, and has superb energy, concentration, and a biting tackle. As a defender, he contributes a lot to the attack as well; his five goals would put him second in the current Premier League scoring defenders table, and he also has six assists to his name.
In keeping with the Toulouse (short) fuse, he has been booked nine times in twenty-seven games this season, but that is probably just keeping up with the rest of the boys. His defensive stats are pretty hyper-cool as well, with an average 2.9 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per game. Given that Toulouse’s game plan revolves around aggressive pressing and winning the ball high up the pitch for rapid transitions into an attacking phase before the opposition have a chance to regroup, Aurier’s ability to zoom out of the defensive line and win possession sets the team’s whole tone.
Despite being only 21 years old, Aurier is a leader on pitch and only mercurial winger Wissam Ben Yedder has started more games for the men in purple. His ability to put in consistently strong performances, despite his tender years, coupled with a fearsome competitiveness and natural ability, mean that Aurier is destined to be turning out for a bigger team soon.
Which, you can now say, you knew all along…
Playing for hipster team? Not enormously, but the gritty Toulouse side is built on young French talent and like a scrap: 6
Mentioned as young talent by World Soccer? No, but they tend to like more flash players: 0
Linked with Arsenal for no particular reason? Naturally, screamed the Metro, in March – a potential replacement for Sagna: 10
From same nation as club? No – but is from Francophone Côte d’Ivoire, holds dual nationality, and has only played professionally in France: 8
Positive reference from the Guardian? Only in the Rumour Mill, but they called him “exciting”, so that’ll do: 6
Level of obscurity: Unless you play FM or love Ligue 1, he won’t exactly be on your radar: 7
Has Twitter decided to discover him? Yes, in fact profiled recently by @Gibney_A: 8
Hipster hobby? Flirting with Arsene Wenger, really. So yes, and yet also, no: 5
Overall: 50/80 – he’s pretty hipster, really. If you like a bit of derring-do in your centre-halves, Serge is your man. He gains points for being loved by Arsenal, but loses points for loving them back. Hipsters: never desperate. Remember that, my friends.