Arsenal linked with surprise move for ‘new Pires’ in France

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Arsenal’s penchant for signing young French talent could see the club turn their attentions to a midfield talent already drawing comparisons with Gunners legend Robert Pires.

An attacking midfielder also capable of operating in a supporting striker role, Yeni Ngbakoto has impressed throughout his time in Ligue 1.

A product of the Metz academy, with the club famous for producing stars like Louis Saha, Emmanuel Adebayor, Sylvain Wiltord and most notably the aforementioned Pires among others, it’s the latter of this quartet to whom the most obvious comparisons have been made.

Ngbakoto may still be some way off matching the ability of Pires, but that has not stopped Arsenal from being linked with a move for the 22-year-old.

A report carried by Foot Mercato claims that the Gunners are battling Porto for the signing of the attacker, who was instrumental in helping Metz achieve promotion from Ligue 2 last season, scoring 14 goals in 37 outings for the French outfit.

Les Grenats currently sit just outside of the Ligue 1 relegation zone on goal difference and while the midfielder recently put pen to paper on a new contract with the club, interest from elsewhere, coupled with a potential drop back down a division, could see Ngbakoto push for a move.

Arsenal have something of an advantage over Porto however, with the presence of Arsene Wenger – a manager with a fine track record for developing French talent – likely to be a decisive factor.

And with Metz legends like Pires and Wiltord both previously thriving during their stays in north London, any Gunners bid is likely to take preference from a Porto offer.

At this stage, however, reports of a move remain purely speculation and Wenger may opt to wait until the summer to sign the midfielder.

A France international at under-17 and under-18 level, Ngbakoto is the latest in a long line of young Gallic stars to be linked with an Emirates switch.

Back in December, Nantes midfield star Jordan Veretout had reportedly been identified as a target for the London club.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.