In an exemplary demonstration taken straight from Mohamed Diame’s guide to self-promotion, Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko has this week been crowing about Arsenal’s interest in him.
The Frenchman’s claims are somewhat undermined by the lack of action on the Gunners’ side of the bargain and this doesn’t look as though it will change in the short term.
Arsene Wenger has made a conscious effort to get his priority targets signed before Euro 2016, with Granit Xhaka already through the door and Jamie Vardy maybe about to follow.
To further douse Sissoko’s dreams, Arsenal forked out £30m for Xhaka, who would likely occupy one of the central-midfield berths the Frenchman presumably has his eye on. With great depth in that position already, it’s unlikely Wenger is going to pay big bucks to add unnecessary bodies.
All this before raising the question of whether the Magpies star is good enough to play for a club harbouring the Gunners’ ambitions.
But while they may be stacked in centre-midfield, Arsenal are short on numbers at the heart of defence, a situation one of Sissoko’s club colleagues could remedy.
A late-blooming youngster, Jamaal Lascelles was often tipped for glory during his academy days at Nottingham Forest.
However, despite the rave reviews, Lascelles wasn’t able to command a regular spot in a struggling Toon team that would ultimately be relegated until March.
Across his 18 Premier League appearances he recorded an average of 2.4 aerial duels won per outing, the second highest of any of his Newcastle colleagues, while it was only Chancel Mbemba who could best his 4.3 clearances per match mean.
Laurent Koscielny currently holds the fort as Arsenal’s first-choice centre-back, with one of Per Mertesacker or Gabriel vying to partner him. Cover is lacking in the event that one of the trio succumbs to injury or suspension.
Lascelles demonstrated through his dominant end-of-season showings that he would be an ideal alternative to the Gunners’ foremost defenders.
His present paymasters are currently rated as 5/2 favourites to win the Championship next term with his help.