“If I had to choose one club, it would be Arsenal”

FourFourTwo.com's James Horncastle on a young French midfielder currently being compared to Manchester City's former Arsenal star Patrick Vieria, who is aready said to be attracting the attention of Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp and Sir Alex Ferguson...

Name Moussa Sissoko
Age 20
Position Midfield
Nationality French
Club Toulouse
Games 118 Goals 15

Having just returned from a routine scouting mission to Paris eight years ago, Toulouse’s chief scout, Daniel Martinez, literally burst through the club’s doors.

“I said: ‘I’m back and I think I have found a star!’” he remembers. “I got teased about it, but nevermind.”

The 12-year-old boy who had turned Martinez into an office joke was Moussa Sissoko, the son of a Malian footballer. When the prestigious magazine France Football named Sissoko as the Revelation of 2009 last December, Martinez was entitled to ask: “Who’s laughing now?”

An ever-present in the Toulouse side since an assured first start against Lyon in 2007, Sissoko, now 20, has already amassed more than 100 appearances in Ligue 1.

“Being with Toulouse allowed me to have my chance very soon,” he enthused. “They are a club that focuses on youth.”

In touch with his Malian roots, Sissoko grew up idolizing Mahamadou Diarra, but his sometimes awkward-looking playing style has led to comparisons with Arsenal and France legend Patrick Vieira.

Coincidentally, Sissoko is currently ahead of the Manchester City player in the pecking order for the France squad.

“It’s there for all to see, he is performing for his club,” Raymond Domenech said after calling him up for the first time in August 2009.

Six goals in his first 13 games this season only served to increase interest in Sissoko, with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United all linked with a move for the midfielder over the past 12 months.

Manchester United may seek a player of Sissoko's ilk to replace Owen Hargreaves, who has struggled with injuries for over two years, generally leaving Darren Fletcher and  Michael Carrick as the only senior defensive-minded midfielders at Old Trafford. Spurs meanwhile, may wish to add more steel and energy to a central midfield which is at times a bit static, especially with White Hart Lane set to host Champions League football next season. However Sissoko already seems to have a fairly good idea where he'd like to play...

“If I had to chose a club,” he mused, “it would be Arsenal.”

Vieira’s Gunners legacy should consider itself under threat.

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