Talking Armand Traore with a Gooner
With Armand Traore currently on loan with Pompey I thought I would ask Tim Stillman from Vital Arsenal a few questions about the fella to find out what he thought our chances of signing him permanently were, among others things - this is what was said... Firstly, thanks to Arsenal for once again supplying us with another quality player! We like what we have seen of him at Pompey so far, but how highly rated alongside so many of your other young stars is he?
He came into our reserves at 16 and was very highly rated amongst the coaching staff and fast tracked to our first team. He really shone in our Carling Cup side, but he suffered a bit last season, playing in the maulings at Tottenham and United in close succession ruined his confidence a bit and since then he's been a left winger. But I think we're all keen to see how he does at Pompey before deciphering if he can make the step up. His problem might be that the effervescent Gael Clichy is still only 22. Armand's progress thus far has been accelerated and his kickboxing background gives him the athleticism needed to be a full back at Arsenal, but he needs to show he's not out of his depth at the top level.
What is his best position, left back or left midfield/wing?
Ideally he'd be a left wing back! He started as a left winger, then was converted to left back, but I think Wenger sees him as a left winger for the future. He has an excellent cross on him, as unfortunate a sobriquet as it is to use for a Frenchman, he leaps and bounds forwards like a frog. I would still see him as a left back, his positioning isn't always brilliant, but like Cole when he was younger, he has the pace to recover. Round our way full backs are auxiliary wingers anyway and I'd see him fitting into that mould.
With other youngsters Kieran Gibbs and Pedro Botelho as potential alternatives to Gael Clichy - what a player by the way - any chance Arsene Wenger might let Traore go?
It will all depend on how he fares at Pompey. If he impresses he'll be welcomed back and Gibbs will probably go on loan next year. If he doesn't I think we'll sell him. Bendtner went to Birmingham and showed his talent was well in excess of that level, ditto Cole at Crystal Palace. But the likes of Larsson and Muamba were not coruscating enough to prove they had what it takes at Arsenal. My suspicion is that he'll come back, with Gibbs going on loan next year and the best man will win as it were.
Lets just say, for arguments sake, that he will :-) what do you realistically think he would cost us?
Who knows? Arsenal's transfer dealings are so clandestine. I reckon you'd be looking at about £6m given his age and prospect for development. If he doesn't make it at Arsenal he could scarcely ask for better tutelage than Adams and Harry.
Whilst we are talking, what are your expectations for Arsenal this season?
Realistically, we don't have the squad to win the league and I was a bit disappointed we didn't purchase a quality midfielder. In fact, I was in a small minority who wanted Wenger to make a cheeky bid for Diarra! But I wouldn't write us off for the Champions League, I think subconsciously the manager wants that one badly and Arsenal's style of play suits the competition nicely. I would really like us to bag one of the Cups this year, but unlike a lot of spoiled Gooners out there, I won't cry into my Cheerios if we don't. Wenger is taking us in the right direction against teams with frightening resources, I'd always trust him and we have been challenging for trophies in our apparently suicide inducing barren spell. I just really enjoy following this team all around Europe and feel incredibly lucky to watch these players play the way they do and we earn respect all over Europe. That seemed unthinkable back in 1995.
Thanks to Tim Stillman for answering these.
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