Arsenal misfit Francis Coquelin is on the verge of completing a shock switch back to France with Tours FC, which would mean a drop down to Ligue 2 in search of regular first-team football after a difficult two years for the tough-tackling midfielder.
Coquelin spent last season on loan in the Bundesliga with Freiburg but struggled to mark his mark, consistently played out of position and voted the competition's third-worst player by Bild in a mid-season poll.
Freiburg were never likely to pursue a permanent move and that has left the 23-year-old in a difficult position, where should go to harness the talent that saw Arsenal snap him up as a teenager in 2008?
France Football believes that Coquelin has decided that he must take a step back to revitalise a once promising career and is ready to join Tours in the second tier of his home nation's league pyramid, although it's not clear if the deal is permanent or only another season-long loan switch.
Gunners fans had once eyed Coquelin as the latest French youth international ready to shine in North London, but after 39 senior appearances for Arsenal and 16 in the Premier League his time working with Arsene Wenger may already be over.
QUESTIONS OVER RECRUITMENT
Arsenal have made a concerted effort over the last two seasons to ship out regular reserves or starlets with no chance of breaking into the starting at the Emirates, with Coquelin joining the likes of Chuks Aneke and Nicklas Bendtner in looking for a fresh challenge elsewhere.
Gunners fans have a right to query whether their academy and recruitment policy as a whole has delivered the goods over the last decade, with the appointment of Andries Jonker as the new head of youth development at London Colney a sign that the club have recognised its time for a change.
TOURS DE FRANCE
With that in mind Arsenal have allowed Coquelin to begin talks over personal terms with Tours, a club who helped develop current Gunners and Les Blues stars Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny.
Coquelin has just one year left on his current contract at the Emirates, which means negotiations with Tours have all the makings of a permanent move which would represent quite a coup for the Ligue 2 outfit.
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