Name: Serge Aurier
Serge Aurier has now become a mandatory name in next-best-thing lists such as these. If you don’t include him then, well, the validity of your list goes out of the window.
It is a rarity to find a full-back who is productive in both ends of the pitch, and at such a young age. Aged just 20, Aurier is a manchild that can already carry out both his defensive and attacking duties to an excellent level.
Defensively, his mixture of rugby full-back physique and pace make it difficult for attackers to get the better of him. From an attacking perspective, the Toulouse defender uses the aforementioned physical attributes and even fancy footwork as vehicles for his productivity. Certainly, he is more than just your average attacking full back – and the maths does the talking. Six goals and six assists this season make him one of the most potent right-backs in world football. Only forwards Wissam Ben Yedder and Martin Braithwaite have had more shots per game in the Toulouse team this season.
With such completeness to his overall game, it is not surprising that his club manager Alain Cassanova has had no reservations to deploy Aurier, a player he says he would like to “clone”, also at centre-half and right midfield this season.
It is at right-back where his future lies, though. Apt for a man called Serge, he has surged into the Ivory Coast team with the feral intensity that is a feature of his marauding runs forward. In doing so, he has been ultra upgrade from Emmanuel Eboue, making the right-back spot the only unquestionable position in the Ivorian backline despite not yet having reached double digits in caps.
The next step for Aurier is either a move to a bigger league or a more visible club in Ligue 1. A young man with his finger always on the retweet button on Twitter, his unprofessional actions on social media have spoken volumes about his preferred destination. Arsenal jerseys have been donned, Arsenal fans’ requests for him to move to the Emirates have been retweeted to I-should-unfollow-him proportions. I even tested him out by asking him if he would join TP Mazembe or Al Hilal. A retweet wasn’t forthcoming. And with Bacary Sagna set to leave Arsenal in the summer, a move to the Emirates seems logical.
Words by Salim Masoud Said (@salimosaid)