Despite the fact Arsenal have an abundance of midfield schemers (e.g. Samir Nasri, Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere) reports in recent days have suggested Arsene Wenger will look to replace Cesc Fabregas with Yoann Gourcuff should the Spanish playmaker make his long awaited return to Barcelona.
The Sun claimed yesterday that Arsenal will pay Â£21.8million and the Bordeaux attacking midfielder is the number one choice to replace Fabregas. The fee is Gourcuffâ€™s get-out clause of his current deal at Bordeaux although Les Girondins may well play hardball after Wenger nicked Marouane Chamakh on a free earlier this summer.
An “Arsenal source” is quoted in The Sun saying: “While every effort is being made to keep Cesc at the club the boss is working towards an alternative. He believes Gourcuff’s finesse and grace will fit perfectly to Arsenal’s way of playing and will make it an almost seamless transition if Cesc does go.” And Wenger has reportedly already spoken to Gourcuffâ€™s father about the switch.
Yoann Gourcuff is probably the first Frenchman to live up to the billing of â€œthe new Zidaneâ€ since the former Juventus and Real Madrid star retired. At just 23 (the same age as Fabregas) he could well emerge as one of the outstanding playmakers on the world stage and will be key to Franceâ€™s hopes at the upcoming World Cup.
After coming through the ranks at Rennes, Gourcuff was snapped up by AC Milan but had a torrid time in Italy where he failed to make the breakthrough at the Rossoneri despite playing over 30 games across two seasons.
Laurent Blanc can be credited with Gourcuffâ€™s renaissance at Bordeaux, taking him on loan last season where he led Les Girondins to the Ligue 1 title, scoring 14 goals and providing 10 assists in 44 appearances.
The last season was a little more difficult for Bordeaux where Gourcuff signed permanently last summer for 13.4 million euros. Larry Whiteâ€™s side fell away dramatically in the French top division and Gourcuff (as well as Chamakh) failed to stop the slide which eventually saw them finish sixth when they had looked odds on favourites to win the championship in the first half of the campaign.
With Blanc now announced as the new France boss after the World Cup and Jean Tigana replacing him at Bordeaux it would be no surprise if there were whole sale changes and Gourcuff could well be one of many to follow Chamakh out the exit door.
Arsenal boss Wenger will no doubt be wary that Gourcuff struggled in Italy but he should adapt well with all the Frenchmen at the Emirates and will likely be the focus of the team, which he wasnâ€™t at the San Siro. There are also doubts over his physical ability to cope with the demands of the Premier League but if Alexandre Song shows the form of last season he should improve in this aspect.
The bottom line is that Gourcuff is probably one of the only players in world football who could replace Fabregas. He has the vision and playmaking skills to make goals and he can also score his fair share. At 6.1ft he can stride through midfield a la Zidane and is also susceptible to the odd “roulette” or drag back. He can also take free-kicks and last season scored from set-pieces and also with his head.
Intriguingly for the transfer gossips among us, Lyon are also interested in signing Gourcuff and may well nip in whilst the soap opera of Fabregas to Barcelona continues. The World Cup may also complicate matters if Gourcuff can inspire Raymond Domenechâ€™s under achievers.
Wherever Cesc Fabregas ends up this summer, Arsenal need a new top quality experienced goalkeeper and some physically imposing defenders. If Fabregas does leave, then spending half the money received from Barcelona on Gourcuff is a no-brainer and alongside Chamakh he will likely be a real success in the Premier League.
Video evidence of Yoann Gourcuff can be seen here.