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Jean Michael Seri could be one of the first players targeted by incoming new Arsenal manager Unai Emery, according to Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail.
Emery, who is expected to be officially confirmed as Arsene Wenger’s successor “in the next 72 hours,” also “tried to sign Seri for Paris Saint-Germain in January and is now poised to revive his interest,” per the report.
Seri can leave Ligue 1 side Nice if a club meets his £35 million price tag, with Mokbel mentioning Arsenal’s London rivals Chelsea and Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund as other potential suitors.
Dortmund’s interest could be significant after the German club recently appointed Seri’s former manager Lucien Favre, per an official statement (h/t ESPN FC’s Stephan Uersfeld).
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Arsenal may have a strong connection to Nice if rumours former skipper Patrick Vieira is set to succeed Favre come to fruition. However, Vieira has downplayed the speculation, while citing his happiness at Major League Soccer side New York City FC, per Goal’s Jamie Smith:
“It makes me smile, because of course there’s no contract being signed or anything like that. This is the wrong information. I’m here, like always. I’m really happy. I really enjoy my work, I really enjoy being part of this football club. I’m just focusing and concentrating about our next game.”
Arsenal’s stronger way in to a potential deal for Seri is more likely to be Emery’s impending arrival. The 46-year-old Basque tactician was confirmed as the club’s choice to replace Wenger by BBC Sport’s David Ornstein on Monday:
David Ornstein @bbcsport_david
BREAKING: Arsenal to appoint Unai Emery as new manager. Thorough process produced 46yo Spaniard as unanimous choice. Available after leaving #PSG (1 Lg1 title, 4 cups), previously Sevilla (3 EL wins), not fluent English. Announcement + press conference likely later this week #AFC
If he’s been on the case of Seri before, Emery may be able to convince the gifted Ivory Coast international to finally make the move to north London. The sals pitch would be helped by Arsenal having already established interest in the 26-year-old midfielder.
Arsenal’s head of football relations Raul Sanllehi once explored a deal for Seri while working for Barcelona, according to L’Equipe (h/t Get French Football News). Sanllehi, along with head of recruitment Sven Mislintat, is tasked with dictating Arsenal’s transfer policy in the post-Wenger era.
Football.London’s Charles Watts said the Gunners couldn’t get the transfer over the line while Wenger was still in charge during the summer of 2017.
It may be easier 12 months on, with Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere telling Canal+ (h/t the Daily Star‘s Callum Vurley) how Seri wants to play away from France.
Arsenal could make room for Seri, even in a crowded midfield. Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil are among the obvious options in the middle.
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However, Wilshere’s contract is up this summer, while Ramsey’s deal expires in 2019. Even so, the latter is expected to be a big part of Emery’s plans, a fact he made clear during interview, per Sky Sports News.
Seri would offer the same quality on the ball common in all of Arsenal’s midfielders on Wenger’s watch. He’s a neat and efficient passer, with the energy to also get forward and score goals, evidenced by two goals and six assists in all competitions this season.
While Seri has the skills of a playmaker, Emery has often made physical and destructive players the foundations of his midfields. Grzegroz Krychowiak played for him at both PSG and Sevilla, while noted destroyers Steven Nzonzi and Felipe Melo also thrived under Emery.
Even so, Arsenal need to keep the technical quality high in midfield, especially after the club confirmed on Monday Santi Cazorla has moved on:
Cazorla’s artistry and two-footed flair will be missed, but Seri would help the Gunners stay faithful to the kind of possession-based game Wenger made synonymous with the club.
If Emery wants the same thing, he would get his expected tenure in charge off to a great start by landing one of the best players potentially available in this summer’s transfer window.