Arsenal are poised to sign Marseille defender Stephane Sparagna on a free transfer when his contract expires in December after making the 19-year-old a contract offer.
The Metro report that Marseille have little intention of offering the versatile centre-back - who has been compared to Arsenal’s Mathieu Flamini because of the similar attributes he has displayed when deployed as a holding midfielder - a new deal because of his poor injury record. However that has not put off Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger who, according to La Marseillaise, is keen to bring Sparagna to the Emirates Stadium before the end of the year.
Wenger confident Arsenal will sign Sparagna
Arsenal face competition for Sparagna’s signature from Ligue 1 outfit Rennes, but Wenger is confident that the player will be more inclined to join the star-studded Gunners. However, the teenager is not expected to arrive in north London and instantly secure a place in Arsenal’s first-team, with competition for places fierce.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are Arsenal’s undisputed first-choice centre-backs, while 19-year-old Calum Chambers has proven himself a very able deputy since completing his £16 million transfer from Southampton in the summer.
Chambers is currently deputising for injured right-back Mathieu Debuchy, who will be out until December with an ankle injury, and it’s clear that Arsenal require defensive reinforcements heading into the second half of the 2014-15 campaign.
Is Sparagna good enough for Arsenal?
Arsenal fans will understandably feel a little sceptical about the idea of Wenger signing an injury-prone defender who is no longer wanted by Marseille, but Sparagna was rated very highly not so long ago.
The 6ft 1in defender, who made his Ligue 1 debut for Marseille in a 3-3 draw against Bastia in August, certainly has potential - but his lack of reliability means his current coach, Marcelo Bielsa, is reluctant to keep him at the Stade Velodrome.
Bielsa’s side currently top the Ligue 1 table, having picked up 22 points from their opening nine matches, but Sparagna has only made three fleeting appearances. It seems almost certain that he will leave the French club in December unless Bielsa intervenes and demands the club offering him a new contract - but that, at this moment in time, is not expected to happen.
Wenger prepared to gamble
Wenger, it seems, is prepared to take a gamble on Sparagna - but risks criticism if the move fails to work out. Arsenal are still in need of a new top-class defensive midfielder as well as a new centre-back, and while Sparagna can do a job in both positions, whether or not he possesses the required quality to play for the Gunners on a regular basis remains to be seen.