Arsenal are said to be tracking French keeper, Alban Lafont.
The reports, which seem to have started with L’Equipe [via talkSPORT] have started to spread across Europe giving the story a lot more weight over the past 24 hours, so we thought we’d take a look at who the player is and if there is likely to be any truth to the rumour.
First up, who is he?
A 17-year-old shotstopper, Lafont has already played for Toulouse, becoming their youngest-ever player when he made his debut aged just 16 years and 310 days – an age that puts him practically in nappies for a goalkeeper.
Keeping eight cleansheets in 24 appearances last season, he was part of the reason the French side avoided relegation and has, unsurprisingly, come to the attentions of Arsenal.
With a player of this potential it’s surprising not to see a host of other names linked with him, but for now, it’s just Arsenal. It’s unlikely it will stay that way for long.
His current contract runs until 2020 after he was handed an extension at the end of June due to his increased status at the club. He has two cleansheets in six Ligue 1 games this season, conceding 5.
Comparing him to Cech and Szczesny his stats hold up far better than you would expect against far more senior players.
He is averaging 2.2 saves per goal this season compared to Cech’s 2.17 and Woj’s 1.8. He also leads the way in punches (3 v 1 v 2) and catches (18 v 12 v 4) but his tendency to go long with his clearances means that his distribution accuracy sits low at 47% v Cech’s 61% and the much improved Szczesny, who was awful when at Arsenal, who is now coming in at 76%.
So could Arsenal be interested?
There’s no reason to think they wouldn’t be, especially given the players they have at the minute and how they are trying to keep them happy.
Cech isn’t going to go on forever, Ospina isn’t going to wait much longer for his chance and Szczesny is unlikely to come back unless he’s guaranteed a number one spot.
That’s without even factoring in Emi Martinez.
Would Lafont give up a regular starting spot at such a young age to warm the Arsenal bench or play with the u23s? If he’s smart, he won’t but that means by the time Arsenal can make room for him to at least offer the #2 shirt, he’s going to be a lot more well known and cost significantly more.
Decisions, decisions, for all parties on this one.