Arsenal announced the signing of Yaya Sanogo a few days back and yours truly was too busy being bemused by the reaction to properly analyze the signing. But now that I’ve had some time with my friend, the Internet, and done some thinking I’ve come to the conclusion: Yaya Sanogo is a great signing for Arsenal.
First, the facts: he’s 6’3″, 20 years old and reportedly weighs just 163lbs. He is right footed (according to transfermarkt) and plays in a traditional center forward role. He scored 12 goals in 12 appearances for club and country since last summer including two impressive bicycle kicks for France U20. He has suffered two major injuries in his career — a “double leg break” in 2010 and a torn muscle in his groin in 2011. And Arsenal reportedly paid just £450,000 to Auxerre for his services.
Naturally, the transfer of a young Frenchman from Auxerre with a history of injury brings out the jokes because you know French + Injury = funny. But comedy aside, his injury history doesn’t actually bother me. In fact, there’s no other club in the world with as much experience dealing with double-leg breaks than Arsenal so, I’m quite sanguine about his injury history.
Diaby (the other player from Auxerre) was the first to have his leg broken after an evil tackle by Sunderland’s Dan Smith, and in many ways he’s the one player whose injury blighted career burns so bright in the minds of Arsenal fans. But, like I said, he was the first and because he plays in midfield he gets kicked, a lot. In fact, he’s been targeted by opposition midfielders his entire career with Chelsea’s Essien trying to break his leg, Joey Barton’s knee tackle, and pretty much every other midfielder having a nibble at him, so it’s a miracle that he’s ever played at all.
After Diaby came Eduardo, who had his leg shattered by Martin Taylor’s studs up lunge, and it should be noted that while Dudu was never the same in England, he is still playing football for Waxtap in the Ukraine. His career in England was also cut short more by the British press’ overreaction to the Celtic dive than almost anything else. But it is fair to say that while he was patched back up, he wasn’t ever really the same.
And then Aaron Ramsey. To say that he has completely returned from his injury is an understatement. He’s completely returned from an horrific leg break, to play midfield for an Arsenal team in which the opposition simply love to kick the Arsenal midfield.
On its surface it looks like the Arsenal physios, then, have done a progressively better job managing each of these player’s injuries. Sure, a broken bone is never the same for any two players and Diaby’s physique has to have played a part in his history of injuries. So, even if you discount that it looks like the physios have gotten better at managing this exact type of injury you would still have to admit that there is a lot of experience in the Arsenal physio room with managing exactly the kinds of continued injuries that a player like Sanogo will experience as he is thrust into the physicality of the Premier League.
We’ll have to see. The first time some Orc goes through the back of him as he’s trying to hold the ball up will be a real test.
And if he’d never been injured I think that many people would actually be eyeing this signing a quite a little coup. He’s scored again for France in the U20 World Cup in Turkey and showed some really impressive touch and control to get the goal. I’ve also seen the videos of his 7 goal outburst in back to back games for Auxerre and he showed some good awareness to be in the right place at the right time and after the match gave credit to the midfielder who set him up time and again.
No, it looks like Sanogo might have the basics in place to be a top drawer striker and it will have to be down to managing his playing time, building his strength and getting him some experience in England to see if he will pan out.
A lot of this will be down to what Sanogo wants. If he works hard on his strength and conditioning. If he practices hard and does everything that the boss says he should be OK. That is, if he’s lucky and avoids injury.
All clubs take chances on players. Some take £50m chances on players like Fernando Torres and other clubs take £35m chances on players like Andy Carroll*, Arsenal take chances on £450,000 players like Sanogo.
Meanwhile, Vito Mannone signed for Sunderland. Which is great for him and Arsenal. I’ll always remember his man of the match performance against Fulham. Arsenal needed a ray of hope and Vito came in and made save after save as Fulham peppered the goal looking for an equalizer. The team were so relieved that I think they carried him off the pitch!
But his departure means that Arsenal have to be looking at bringing in another goalkeeper, right? Right? We can’t be seriously contemplating promoting… uhhh… Martinez. Can we? The rumor mill has Arsenal after Julio Cesar with some competition from Barcelona for his signature. I’ve already made my position clear on this, I like Cesar and think he would be perfect for Arsenal.
But whomever Arsenal are after, I just hope that they are after someone. I should tell you that one of my very best friends is a goalkeeper and he hates Szczesny and Fabianski. He’s not an Arsenal supporter but he’s also not an Arsenal hater and his direct quote was “Szczesny is terrible.” I don’t think I would go that far but I do agree that Szczesny is not quite up to the level that David de Gea, Mignolet, Begovic, and Cesar are. But I think my friend’s best point came after he asked why Arsenal persist with him and why so many Arsenal fans seem to have time for him, when I answered that he’s an Arsenal boy and that he came up with the Gunners, loves the Arsenal, and so on, his reply was “well, do you need a cheerleader or a goalkeeper?”
I like cheerleaders! But I have to admit that I also think Arsenal need a keeper.
*Carroll has had an injury blighted career as well. He has played 20, 9, 47, 2, 23 matches in each of his last 5 seasons.
P.S. – My underlying assumption is that Arsenal are going to sign Gonzalo Higuain. I’m so confident of that happening, possibly this week, that I didn’t even feel the need to make the argument “…as long as Sonogo isn’t the only signing in the forward department.” I’m also confident that if Arsene doesn’t sign Higuain, he will sign someone else. Sanogo will not be the only forward that Arsenal sign this season. That thought hasn’t even crossed my mind.