According to reports in France (have a look at footmercarto.net and sport.fr), Arsène Wenger is monitoring the situation of Burkina Faso international Alain Traore very carefully. Traore plays as a striker for AJ Auxerre, who were relegated to Ligue 2 last season and now need to offload some of their better players in order to balance their wage bill. His contract at Auxerre runs until 2015, but the 23-year-old has been heavily linked with a move back to Ligue 1 or to the Premier League.
Newcastle and Arsenal are the two English clubs thought to be showing the most interest, if only because both clubs have made a number of important signings from France in the last few seasons. However, Traoré is not exactly new to the Premier League. Following some fantastic performances for Burkina Faso at the U17 World Cup, he was given a trial at Manchester United all the way back in 2005. Apparently (although I am not completely convinced), the only reason that his move to United wasn’t finalised was because of work permit issues. I was under the impression that if Fergie wants a player badly enough he is normally able to organise a way around those sort of problems.
When asked to comment on interest from English clubs, Traoré was not exactly ready to commit to a move, but did not rule anything out:
“It’s a pleasure to know that these clubs are following me, but at this time, that’s just a secondary thing.”
Traore scored nine goals and made four assists in 27 appearances last season, which, given that he is rated at somewhere in the region of £6 million, means that he could be worth a gamble. Although technically a “striker” (I am aware that I have left myself open to any number abusive comments in which people point out that we have already signed Podolski and Giroud), he can be used on the left wing and as an attacking midfielder. In my opinion, Arsenal lack a player who can really play in the attacking midfield role, so I imagine that would be where Wenger would want to play him. Most of our midfielders prefer to slip a ball through to van Persie than take shots from outside of the box, with Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta being exceptions on the odd occasion.
Of particular interest is that his brother plays in Chelsea’s youth academy. This familial link to North London can only work in our favour, up until the point where Chelsea, having shown no interest, step in and steal him from right under our noses. The fact that I have never heard of him doesn’t really bother me; Wenger is well known for taking unknown players from the French leagues and turning them into gems.
In other news, Aaron Ramsey was selected to represent Team GB at the Olympics. Click here for more information.