ARSENAL have made strong moves in the transfer market this summer as the club attempt to build a squad that can help them make a return to the Champions League.
Picking up Sead Kolasinac on a free from Schalke was a great start and then the Gunners broke their own record to bring Alexandre Lacazette in from Lyon.
Yet Arsene Wenger isn’t finished there and Football Whispers takes a closer look at Jean Michael Seri, the Nice dynamo linked with being the next big-money signing at the Emirates.
Who is Jean-Michael Seri and where does he come from?
BORN in the Ivory Coast, the diminutive midfielder began his career at Africa Sports in his homeland before moving to ASEC Mimosas in 2010.
It wasn’t long before the European scouts were circling and just two years later, as a 21-year-old, Seri signed a loan deal with FC Porto’s B-team.
He never managed to make the jump up to the main squad but played 13 times in the second tier and scored once.
That was enough to impress Pacos Ferreira, however, and the mid-table side signed Seri on a free transfer.
And that’s where the Ivorian found his wings, playing 69 times, scored three goals and registered seven assists in the top-flight.
In the summer of 2015 came a turning point for Seri.
Nice were in the process of rebuilding and, even though they received £9m from Aston Villa for Jordan Amavi, they were operating under a strict budget.
Keen to find a bargain, they spent £850,000 to bring the virtually unheard of Seri to Ligue 1.
Not much was expected of the 24-year-old, but he played in every league game, contributed three goals and six assists and earned his first international cap for the Ivory Coast.
And last summer captain Nampalys Mendy made the trip across the channel to sign for then English champions Leicester City, leaving more space in the midfield for Seri to blossom.
New boss Lucien Favre subsequently changed to a 3-5-2 formation early in the campaign, but showed flexibility in moving to 4-4-2 and 4-4-3 – but Seri was at the heart of everything they did regardless of the system.
And, although he wants a move this summer, he’s remained professional throughout, even registering an assist in their 1-1 Europa League qualifying first-leg draw with Ajax this week.
How much will he cost?
NICE president Jean-Pierre Rivere has been clear.
The club have an agreement with the 26-year-old which allows him to leave for £36million.
Roma have apparently agreed terms with the player with regards to the wages he’d earn if he moved to the Italian capital, but they were not able to stump up the funds to seal the deal.
Nice are happy to admit that players will depart this summer and Seri expected to be one of them.
Rivere told French newspaper L’Equipe: “There should be three or four more arrivals and two departures.
“We want to finish these as soon as possible but certain cases take more time than others.
“I think we will manage because these last ones should be finalised faster than those from last year.”
There will be no cut price deal for the midfielder, especially after only one player in France finished with more assists than Seri last season.
That man was fellow Arsenal transfer target Thomas Lemar – with ten to the Nice midfielder’s nine.
And if Monaco are going to hold out for around £60m for their pass master, there’s no reason Les Aiglons would drop lower than their asking price.
Seri has grown to become a midfield general on the Cote d’Azur, becoming the type of player that can dictate a team’s movement.
Only Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti and Thiago Motta made more passes per 90 minutes than Seri last term.
Swansea have already had a £15m offer rejected so it’s simple. Meet the release clause or Nice don’t want to know.
Where is his most likely destination this summer?
AT the start of the window Seri was a Barcelona, PSG and Tottenham Hotspur transfer target.
Roma then tried and failed to bring him to Italy and now Arsenal are the favourites to seal his signing.
So it’s only a matter of time until more clubs become savvy to his availability.
If Liverpool fail in their attempt to land Naby Keita, Seri is the type of player who could suit Jürgen Klopp’s midfield.
But Nice aren’t reliant on selling their talented 26-year-old this summer and Favre would welcome his inclusion in their squad for the forthcoming campaign.
Arsenal could really do with a player with Seri’s dynamism, determination and energy he brings to the middle of the park.
It’s just a matter of whether they want to stump up and pay what the Ligue 1 club are asking for.
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