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|Birthday||February 14, 1983|
Before signing the right back in the summer of 2007, Arsenal watched Sagna in action more than 40 times and had scout Gilles Grimandi monitor him for three years. However, any fears he would not adapt to English football were extinguished almost immediately as Sagna rapidly became one of Arsene Wenger’s most reliable players.
Sagna, who won the French Cup with Auxerre in 2005, was named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year for 2006-07, prompting Arsenal to part with £6 million to sign the Frenchman. Unlike his illustrious compatriots Robert Pires and Thierry Henry, the distinctive defender, with his instantly recognisable braids, needed no acclimatisation period whatsoever and was named in the PFA Team of the Year for 2007-08, even if Arsenal’s title challenge faltered in the final stages.
But though impressive, Sagna’s first season at the club was far from easy. Indeed, it witnessed the most traumatic event of his life as his brother, Omar, was found dead in February 2008 following a seizure at the age of 28. Sagna was devastated, but just seven days later bravely played against AC Milan in the Champions League to earn the respect and admiration of the club’s supporters.
He scored his first Arsenal goal in a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in March 2008 – a result that was hugely damaging to the Gunners’ faltering league campaign – but also sustained an ankle injury that would rule him out of the remainder of the season and France’s Euro 2008 campaign. However, he is a key player for his country and played in les Bleus’ shocking 2010 World Cup campaign.
Sagna proved a reliable and consistent figure at club level, proving to be a fine long-term replacement for the popular Lauren. When fit, he is one of the first names on the Arsenal team sheet, helping to solidify their backline.
Strengths: Sagna is a strong defender who has good positional awareness and is an adept reader of the game. He also has the capability to overlap down the right hand side.
Weaknesses: While he is not shy to get forward, his end product could still do with work.
Career high: Being named at right back in the PFA Team of the Year for his first season at Arsenal.
Career low: Missing Euro 2008 and 2012 through injury .
Style: Adventurous, determined, aware, a dependable defender.
Quotes: “For me Sagna, although not a lot of people talk about him, has been tremendous since he has come here. He adapted very, very quickly not only to the technical level – but also to the way we want to play the game, and as well to the physical aspect of the game.” Arsene Wenger lauds his right-back.
Trivia: Sagna’s cousin is Hull City defender Ibrahima Sonko but they did not meet until November 2007 when Sonko, then with Reading, played against Arsenal.