SERGE AURIER has had more ups and downs than most players have in their entire career – and he is just 24 years old.
Several off-field incidents have blighted the defender’s time with Paris Saint-Germain but he is undoubtedly a fine defender and one that has won all he can in France.
However, following the arrival of Dani Alves, Aurier will be allowed to leave Paris this summer. And he won’t be short of takers with Manchester United and City both linked with a move.
Our friends at Football Whispers profile Aurier, who could become a bargain signing of an unnecessary headache for either Manchester club.
Who is Serge Aurier and where does he come from?
BORN in Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast, Aurier spent his formative years in the country before his parents sent him to France in hope of their son having a better life. Aurier lived in Sevran on the outskirts of Paris and his first club was Sevran.
At the age of 12 he joined local club Villepinte before being picked up by Lens in 2006 alongside his brother Christopher. It meant another move away from his family for Aurier, who was then 13 years old.
Success followed Aurier and he progressed through the Lens youth ranks. He was playing as a defensive midfielder who modelled his game on then Chelsea star Michael Essien.
Aurier would go on to be made captain of the reserve side and in June 2009 he earned his first professional contract with the club. A first-team debut arrived the following season as he started at right-back against Saint-Etienne just two days before his 17th birthday.
Up against Dimitri Payet, Aurier endured a shaky start to the game but grew in confidence and proved he was able to complete in Ligue 1 as Lens won 1-0.
He went on to make seven senior appearances during the 2009/10 season before establishing himself as the club’s first-choice right-back the following campaign.
Lens were relegated at the end of the 2010/11 season but Aurier remained with the club and spent six months playing in Ligue 2.
In January 2012 he moved to Toulouse and spent two and a half years with the top flight club during which he established himself as the top full-back in France.
After impressing at the 2014 World Cup for the Ivory Coast, several top clubs were interested in Aurier.
He opted to join PSG on an initial season-long loan and, after making 16 first-team appearances, the deal was made permanent the following summer.
Aurier started the 2015/16 season as the club’s first-choice right-back but it was a campaign that was shrouded in controversy.
In February 2016 the defender took part in a live Q&A on Periscope with a friend and fellow footballer Mamadou Doucoure.
During the broadcast Aurier made several derogatory comments about then PSG boss Laurent Blanc and team-mates Edinson Cavani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Salvatore Sirigu and Gregory van der Wiel.
Initially Aurier claimed the video was false but the evidence was damning and he was suspended by the club indefinitely.
Aurier was forced to make a public apology by PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi who, according to reports in France, punched a door in frustration over the defender’s lack of sincerity.
Al-Khelaifi reportedly told the 24-year-old: “It can take five hours, you’ll do what I ask.”
After missing eight games due to his suspension, Aurier returned to the starting XI for a Champions League quarter final clash with Manchester City. He would go on to play in two major finals that season as PSG completed a domestic treble.
The 2016/17 campaign should’ve been one of redemption for Aurier but there were further off-field problems.
On September 26, 2016, Aurier was handed a two-month suspended prison sentence after he elbowed a police officer during a night out in Paris.
He appealed the verdict but it meant he was denied a visa to enter the UK for a Champions League game against Arsenal in November.
Aurier went on to make 29 starts last season but the arrival of Alves and the form of Thomas Meunier mean PSG are willing to cash in on the right-back this summer.
How much is he likely to cost?
ACCORDING to L’Equipe, PSG are hoping to secure around £20m for the right-back.
Considering Aurier is a player who has been capped almost 40 times by his country and has plenty of Champions League experience, it’s a figure that is unlikely to put off European football’s elite clubs.
Where is his most likely destination?
AURIER is free to leave PSG following the arrival of Alves and that £20m fee in the inflated transfer market would represent good business for any club – hence several are interested in signing Aurier despite his previous indiscretions.
Manchester United are thought to be leading the race as Jose Mourinho looks for a long-term replacement for Antonio Valencia at right-back. The Red Devils could comfortably reach Aurier’s price-tag and would be able to match his wage demands.
The only stumbling block would be Juventus are also interested as they search for a replacement for Alves.
Manchester City and Barcelona have also been linked with moves over the past month, however, their interest has cooled following the signings of Kyle Walker and Nelson Semedo respectively.