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Ligue 1 obsession brings high risk with high reward

Lately, Arsenal have been shopping almost exclusively Ligue 1 for their big needs, and while the risk is incredibly high, the reward can be also.

Sometimes I wonder if Arsene Wenger is still in charge. He made such a habit of signing almost exclusively French players, either from Ligue 1 or abroad. Nowadays, Arsenal have limited their Ligue 1 shopping to just their big-time needs. Anytime they have a huge void that needs filling, they turn to the French top flight.

Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, even Matteo Guendouzi, though he was Ligue 2. More recently, it’s William Saliba, the future of this defense, but the Gunners look to be going back for more with links to Axel Disasi, Houssem Aouar, and more.

If Arsenal go and buy Disasi and Aouar, all of a sudden we’ve answered two of our biggest needs, all through the power of Ligue 1 signings.

Sounds easy enough—but it’s incredibly risky. We see the risk with Lacazette, who hasn’t properly acclimated; Guendouzi who is still growing, but showing signs of greatness; Pepe, who I would argue has already acclimated but took quite a bit of time to do so.

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So now they want to turn and make Aouar the midfield solution? He’s going to cost a small fortune, which means he is going to have to live up to the billing of fixing just about all our midfield needs. Is that a risk we’re willing to take?

The same goes with Disasi. If you spent about £42m on new centerbacks exclusively from Ligue 1, you are trusting that these are the defenders that will see you through to the next era, along with the midfielder doing the same and the winger we already have.

I see the reasoning behind it though. It’s hard for us to shop top shelf without the Champions League or even the Europa League within our grasp. We have to get creative. But creativity is what got us Matteo Guendouzi. That said, not everyone works out as well as Guendouzi—and he hasn’t even really worked out yet.

There is a significant risk in choosing only from the fifth-best league of the top five. But the reward is that you can find signings that fly under the radar. That maybe the Barcelona’s and Bayern Munich’s aren’t looking for.

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The big question is acclimation, but if we’re building for the long-term anyway, it may well pay dividends with a bit of patience.

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