Arsene Wenger could be about to make a move for another gem from France with Toulouse goalkeeper Alban Lafont linked with a transfer to the Emirates.
According to Le 10 Sport in France, Wenger has identified the 18-year-old as Petr Cech’s long-term successor and he could potentially make a move during the summer transfer window.
Arsenal will need to strengthen in goal ahead of the new season, especially if David Ospina and Wojciech Szczesny depart as expected. That could lead to Lafont coming to north London and learning from Cech, before eventually becoming the club’s first-choice goalkeeper.
Here we take a look at the goalkeeper who has become a major hit in France since making his Toulouse debut as a 16-year-old.
Who is he?
With a number of talented youngsters emerging from France at present, the goalkeeper is deemed to be one of the very best.
Lafont made his debut for Toulouse as a 16-year-old in November 2015, becoming the league’s youngest ever goalkeeper, and since then he has not looked back.
Dubbed as Ligue 1’s equivalent to AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, Lafont has made more than 60 appearances for Toulouse in two impressive seasons at Stadium Municipal.
The goalkeeper has received rave reviews from a number of big names in the game and Toulouse are going to find it very difficult to keep hold of their prized asset.
How did he do last season?
It’s no surprise to see top teams linked with Lafont given his impressive form for Toulouse last season.
The previous campaign he became the club’s first-choice goalkeeper at the age of 16 and he carried that form into the following season.
Lafont’s first of 11 clean sheets came on the opening day at Marseille, while a number of them came against impressive opposition.
Although he never managed to keep a clean sheet against league champions Monaco, the goalkeeper managed shutouts in both league games against Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain.
In February he became the youngest goalkeeper in 30 years to reach 50 appearances in the league, achieving the milestone in the 0-0 draw away at PSG.
Lafont, who finished the campaign with 38 appearances, represented France at the U-20 World Cup in South Korea at the end of the league season.
Who wants him?
Likened to the highly-rated Donnarumma, there is a lot of interest surrounding Lafont from a number of clubs.
Arsenal, who have been scouting the goalkeeper since last year, would face a battle to sign the youngster from some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Bayern Munich and Juventus both see Lafont as a long-term option, while Lazio, Porto and Marseille are keen on signing the shot-stopper.
Watford have also been looking at Lafont and are believed to be plotting a move for the talented goalkeeper in the summer.
Given Lafont is expected to be the first-choice goalkeeper for the French international team, Toulouse will be seeking a high price for their highly-rated player.
What has Lafont said on his future?
“I would like to play later in a five-star club. But I keep my feet on the ground. When one thinks only of money, one is less efficient on the ground,” said Lafont.
“I keep my objectives in mind. I know where I want to go and it goes through TFC. There are not many other clubs that would have given a chance to a keeper of my age.
“I will therefore always be grateful.”
What have others said about the talented youngster?
Gregory Coupet, a former French international, said: “He is a smart goalkeeper who reads the game well.
“It is possible to feel that. He brings a lot of confidence despite his young age.”
Bernard Diomede, France U18 coach, added: “He’s good with his feet.
“He can make two or three saves in quick succession or come out to claim dangerous crosses even if he’s been quiet all game.
“That, for me, is what a top-class keeper is.”