Exclusive: Arsenal face competition for French star, Man United misfit to Ligue 1 & more – Jonathan Johnson

Posted by

Hello and welcome to my latest column for CaughtOffside – click here to subscribe to get this ad-free and straight to your inbox!

Sacha Boey attracting interest from Arsenal and other Premier League clubs

Sacha Boey is impressing at Galatasaray and is now understood to be on the radar of clubs like Arsenal, while he’s also increasingly admired by the French national team because they have a bit of an issue with depth in the full-back positions. Boey has really exploded since leaving France and he’s shown he’s a player who could fill that void on the right-hand side for Les Bleus.

My understanding is Boey is interesting a number of clubs in the Premier League and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him make a move like that at some point sooner rather than later. We’ve seen his attacking qualities from full-back, and he puts in a shift defensively too, so it’s easy to see why that kind of profile is appealing to some top sides.

In terms of Arsenal, I’m perhaps not 100% convinced he’s ready for a move like that just yet, but he has been an unexpected success since leaving France for Turkey – the Premier League is obviously a level up from that, though it’s still not an easy environment to thrive in, but he’s done really well there and he’s definitely being looked at by a number of English clubs, not just Arsenal.

Arsenal and Ligue 1 clubs to do more business?

Folarin Balogun celebrates a goal for Reims

There’s been a lot of interest and a lot of business done between Arsenal and Marseille in recent times, with OM showing a particular interest in Folarin Balogun and his future this summer. It’s difficult for Marseille to make a move for him at this moment in time, however, as they don’t have a new coach in place yet.

Reiss Nelson has attracted interest from Ligue 1 clubs and I wouldn’t be surprised if Marseille were one of those. Lens could be another as they’re quite well known for the smart way they scour the market, so they may have been looking at him before the potential contract extension at Arsenal, which now looks more likely.

Still, Marseille seem to have a particularly good relationship with Arsenal, as we saw with the loan deal for Nuno Tavares last summer, which itself followed the William Saliba loan and the Matteo Guendouzi loan that was turned permanent.

In terms of Tavares’ future, I’m not sure Marseille saw enough from him to want to make that move permanent, but I think that’s a relationship those two clubs will want to continue, so it could have implications for Balogun, or maybe someone else.

Don’t rule out Anthony Martial returning to France this summer

I could see Anthony Martial returning to France this summer and one potential landing spot could be Lyon. Martial came through the youth academy there before moving to Monaco and breaking through at senior level there, and Lyon tend to like trying to repatriate some of their homegrown players.

It would certainly surprise me if Martial stayed at Old Trafford, so I think this could be a good move for Lyon to consider. France seems like a logical place for him to try to revive his career, but whether that’s on loan or a permanent transfer remains to be seen.

Something surely needs to change for Martial after a frustrating few years. He’s just never quite found that consistency or lived up to what’s been expected of him, so if Lyon tried to give him a chance it wouldn’t be a shock to me. Lens might also find him an interesting solution given they’ve qualified for the Champions League and they could lose Lois Openda.

It’s a shame to see Martial struggle the way he has because he’s such a talented player. There have been question-marks about him and over his lifestyle away from the pitch. To be honest, I think the difficult thing for him has been both a positive and a negative in that he started life at United so well and I think that led to unrealistic expectations of him; the bar was set so high from day one, and that meant it was always going to be hard for him to maintain that form, let alone better it.

He looked like a world beater early on at United and I think many players would have struggled with the spotlight being on them like that at such a young age. He was a player who showed a lot of talent, and it might be that he’d do well in an environment that’s not quite as challenging as a big club like United. Having said that, I think he also hasn’t helped himself in some ways. There have been justified question-marks over his personality and his work rate away from the pitch, and it seems now that a string of different managers at Old Trafford have had the same problem with him.

It would be nice to think he could still salvage something from his career for club and country. I’m aware that Didier Deschamps was somebody who believed in his potential, and once he stopped being called up for the French national team it put him in a bit of a no-mans-land. A fresh start could now be ideal to help him for the next stage of his career, because there’s still a lot he can do with the talent he has.

Evan Ndicka’s future could still be in the Premier League

Evan Ndicka now looks set to complete a move to Roma, having been a high-quality opportunity for a number of clubs on a free transfer. He’s had interest from clubs who don’t quite have the budget to compete with the elite clubs in Europe this summer, so I think for him to join Roma looks like a good opportunity for him, especially with an experienced coach like Jose Mourinho in charge. It’ll be a big boost for them as well as they continue to do some smart work building their squad.

There was the opportunity for Ndicka to sign a new contract and stay at Eintracht Frankfurt, but he ultimately made the decision to push ahead with moving on. There were murmurings of interest from within the Bundesliga, but that would probably only have given him a select number of clubs to choose from if he was to make a true forward step, and my understanding is that there wasn’t really ever any strong interest from Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund in obtaining him.

That made it difficult for him to stay in the Bundesliga, but Ligue 1 was another option – PSG were interested in his profile, a young French talent from the Paris region, but ultimately Roma offered the best potential stepping stone for him to join a top European club where he can play regularly. He’s been linked with elite clubs in the past, and that’s not to say Roma aren’t quite at that level because they are a great club, but I think it looks like a good move for him to accrue more experience. He’s still at an early stage in his career as well, so in two or three years it could make more sense to see him move to the Premier League or other elite European clubs.

More Stories Anthony Martial Evan Ndicka Folarin Balogun Jonathan Johnson Reiss Nelson Sacha Boey