Despite the occasional David Brent-ism, Mikel Arteta has done a stellar job of rebuilding Arsenal. If The Gunners can land their next target, though, they could be looking at a permanent spot at the top of the mountain.
Looking past the club dog named Win and being fed by Salt Bae while on holiday is difficult, but you have to grin and bear it to appreciate the brilliant job he’s done at the Emirates Stadium.
Once a sleeping giant struggling to find their way in the post-Wenger era after years of clinging onto former glory, Arteta has helped to deliver a menacing style of play – perhaps the sexiest football in the Premier League – while also getting results and turning Arsenal back into title contenders.
They fell just short in 2022-23 and have their doubters as we approach the business end of the 2023-24 season, where Manchester City just begin to defrost, but writing them off again would be an oversight.
Especially if they can land 18-year-old Jean-Matteo Bahoya, and set themselves up for years to come with one of French football’s finest young talents.
For all of Arsenal’s brilliance in possession, they can often come unstuck in that final third, defaulting into a mode of trying to walk the ball into the back of the net due to a lack of firepower.
There’s only so much Bukayo Saka can do with his joyous footwork and wicked shot before somebody else needs to pick up the slack. Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus and Kai Havertz are yet to explode into a consistent vein of form, but Bahoya might well be the answer to that problem.
Moving to Angers aged 14, Bahoya has been ripping it up in their academy ever since and redefining the role of the attacking midfielder with a flair and agility with the ball at his feet that will leave you questioning it all.
A regular in the France under-18 setup, Bahoya strutted his stuff down the middle at youth level but has leapt up to senior football with Angers this season, dazzling defenders with a supreme ability to carry the ball into high-pressure areas from the left flank.
Youngsters are almost always fearless, but the French teenager already seems to possess a finesse that sets him apart from his age group.
What is most frightening, however, is how tailor-made he already looks for Arsenal’s frontline. Cutting in on that turbocharged right foot, he could be the key to their success in the second half of the season.
Jean Mattéo Bahoya 🇨🇲🇫🇷 Scout Report
🔸 Nationality: France 🇫🇷
🔸 Birth Date: 07.05.2005 (18 years old)
🔸 Club: @AngersSCO | Angers SCO
🔸 Position: LW / FW
🔸 Strong foot: Right
🔸 Height: 1.80 cm 5'11"FT / 76 kg 168LBS
🔹 Potential: B+ (Player for Tier 1)
— Sergei Aleksandrovich (@ale8androvic) December 27, 2023
Seriously, what’s the point in even trying to kick a ball when there are teenagers out there with such a natural ability? We were never making it.
With five goals and two assists from 19 appearances in Ligue 2 this season – only six of which have been starts – it’s clear to see why Arsenal are competing with the likes of Milan and Eintracht Frankfurt to secure his services.
Just from watching him, it becomes abundantly clear why Arteta would want him in his fluid front three, putting defenders on stilts and spinning them into oblivion across the country, as he looks to take his rebuild of the Gunners into its most devastating phase yet.
There is of course a long way to go for Bahoya, but given Arsenal’s recent track record with signing young talent and his rise from youth to senior football, it’s hard not to see him kicking on and becoming a world beater – as every French prospect always appears to do.
His name might not be the sexiest, but his performances and potential would do all the talking.
By Mitch Wilks