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Arsenal are reportedly leading a clutch of Premier League clubs in the race to sign Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri.
According to L’Equipe (h/t Alex Smith of the Daily Mirror), the Gunners have an edge on the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool in pursuit of the player due to a strong relationship that exists between Seri’s agent and Arsenal’s head of football relations Raul Sanllehi.
City are reported to have previously been the favourites to secure the 26-year-old after talks were held between the Premier League champions and the player’s representatives. As noted by Smith, Barcelona also came close to landing Seri last summer.
Seri would also be available for a fee of around £35 million due to a release clause that exists in his current contract.
Per Charles Watts of Football.London, the links between Seri and the Gunners were around last summer too:
Charles Watts @charles_watts
L’Equipe linking Arsenal with a move for Jean Seri – A throwback to last summer when they were certainty looking at him. Sanllehi said to be keen on a deal.
Over the last couple of seasons Seri has developed well, and during the 2016-17 term in particular he established himself as one of the best players in Ligue 1 with some excellent midfield displays.
Seri’s game is all about getting on the ball and dictating the tempo of a football match, as these numbers from WhoScored.com show:
Jean Michael Seri: Has made more accurate passes (4070) than any other Ligue 1 player since the start of the 2016/17 season
For more player stats — https://t.co/87Vpf9AAi6 https://t.co/ATXPFCfN2R
Under manager Lucien Favre the midfielder has become a linchpin. Seri is always available to receive possession. When he’s on the ball he’s adept at carrying play through phases and is also astute in the way he uses possession; the Ivory Coast international can play long passes out to the flanks or dissect defences with delicate balls in the final third.
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While Seri is not a midfield destroyer by any means, his work off the ball and energy would help him cope in a high-tempo division like the Premier League.
In 2017-18, after a summer that saw so many links with Barcelona, Seri has struggled for consistency at times. But football writer Lars Pollmann commented on a midfielder coming back into form recently:
Lars Pollmann @LarsPollmann
So, those were 90 minutes just now. Will have forgotten them by the time I wake up tomorrow. Seri is still great. That’s about it.
Arsenal’s midfield would benefit from some restructuring, and with Santi Cazorla out injured since 2016, they’ve lacked a distributor to knit play together. It’s a job Seri has shown he can do in the French top flight.
The issue for Arsenal is that while Sanllehi may be interested in signing Seri, the club have yet to confirm who their next manager will be, with Arsene Wenger leaving after 22 years in charge. Plus, as of yet, it’s not clear how much sway the head of football relations and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat will have on new signings.
Seri appears poised to leave this summer, and he has the attributes to be a hit in English football. His acquisition would be a positive move at the start of a new era at the Emirates Stadium.