Arseblog News is reporting that Arsenal may be in Nice talking to Jean-Michael Seri about a transfer to London. The 26 year old (just turned) Nice man plays as a center mid and would be a replacement for Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla, who is still recovering from injury and who is going to be 33 years old this season.
Cazorla’s role for Arsenal, which he did exceptionally well, was to carry the ball forward past the opposition first line of defense. Cazorla often started in the deepest positions and would find a long pass in the air, a ladder-like direct pass on the ground, or would simply dribble past his marker.
Seri has an almost identical skillset: he completed 37/44 dribbles last season, was only dispossessed 40 times, made an insanely impressive 159/211 long passes (75%), and was third among all players in the top five leagues in Europe with 9 key passes from throughballs.
As you know, Wenger prizes players who can see and make this pass and the throughball key pass is considered one of the most effective for setting up a player to score. The two players above him in the throughball key pass stats were J. Viera (plays for Las Palmas in Spain) with 10 and a guy named Lionel Messi with 13. Those 9 throughball key passes also tied him with Paul Pogba (£90m transfer fee to Man U), Kevin Strootman, and the much sought-after Marco Veratti (PSG midfielder). Seri led all players in Europe with 4 assists from throughballs, tying with Isco and Strootman.
Seri is also a dead-ball specialist. He completed 27/92 corners (30%) and generated 11 key passes (passes that resulted in a shot) from those corners. He also had 12 key passes from free kicks, which was 10th best in Europe.
Seri is 5’5″ (168cm) and weighs just 65 kg: Santi Cazorla is 168cm and weighs just 66kg.
Far from the signing that Arsenal fans want this season, imploring Wenger to buy a larger, more defense-minded player like Casemiro (Real Madrid), Seri does look like the perfect replacement for Santi Cazorla. Nice are reportedly asking 40m Euros and in this market, where Pep Guardiola is paying £50m for Kyle Walker, Seri looks like a bargain.
Arsenal are also reportedly after Thomas Lemar from Monaco and are said to be preparing a bid of £45m – or are on the verge of signing him, or have been rebuffed again, depending on which papers you read. Monaco vice-President Vadim Vasilyev is quoted saying:
“We have kept all of the key players that we intended to keep,” Vasilyev said. “I will address speculation relating to the case of (Thomas) Lemar.
“He is staying with us. He is an immense talent and is essential for the team.”
But Monaco are about to sell Mbappe for £160m and due to the other trades they have made this season could be sitting on close to £300m. They have quoted Arsenal £80m for Lemar and as a result I don’t think Lemar is likely. Lemar was also targeted as a replacement for Alexis Sanchez and with Wenger crowing loudly that Arsenal aren’t selling Alexis, saying
“Sanchez has got one year to go and we have no need to make money. He will be part of the team next year and after that I can understand it [the speculation],” Wenger said.
“But you don’t want to write that but that’s a version I can give you. … My mind has been made up for a while now.
“We are in a strong financial situation so we want to keep our best players. You can see there is a fight everywhere to get top players. Man United, Manchester City, all the big clubs. All the clubs have big money.”
But rumors, likely started by Alexis’ agent, and reported in the Telegraph, an unreliable paper who print rumors started by agents, suggest that Alexis is going to have a showdown with Arsene Wenger on Monday. I hope it’s at high noon. I do suspect that any deal with Lemar is as a replacement for Alexis so I can’t rule this out until I know what’s happening with Alexis, which we won’t know until the shootout at the OK Corral at High Noon on Monday.
Whatever happens with Lemar, the Seri rumors look like a very Wenger signing. He is the type of player Wenger prizes with the skillset which would directly replace Santi Cazorla. He’s also “only” priced at 40m Euros and I think this deal is much more likely than Lemar. Don’t be surprised, however if this transfer and the Lemar transfer drag out another year. Wenger did that before, with Cazorla, in fact.
As for player sales, Arsenal are probably going to sell Jack Wilshere for about 1/4th of what they will pay for Seri and 1/8th of what Monaco want for Lemar.