According to a series of reports from people who are reasonably trustworthy, Stade Rennes midfielder and French international Yann M'Vila will play for Arsenal next season, as a £17.7m fee has been agreed with the French club, and final negotiations are in the final stages. The deal, which would be a new record fee for Arsenal, is unlikely to be closed before the season ends on Sunday, but could be announced very soon after as manager Arsene Wenger attempts to avoid the late-summer catastrophe that hamstrung this season's team before the campaign was begun.
Again, there has been no official announcement, and as with the early spring's reports on Lukas Podolski, skepticism is advised until the club itself speaks. On the other hand, Podolski's a Gunner now, so maybe all bets are off. WHO KNOWS.
The initial report (as far as I can tell, at least) yesterday was from the blog You Are My Arsenal; one of their writers claimed inside information from the club that ended up shaping into roughly the deal that is being widely reported today. Two weeks of reporting went into it (according to their final story on M'Vila), and based on new evidence, it appears that the reporting was good.
Today, some more well-known media personalities took their swings. Julien Laurens, ubiquitous journalist and expert in French football, had this to say this morning:
He also linked to a Telegraph piece by Jeremy Wilson with more detail, but the overall idea is the same. Additionally Arseblog News and Jamie Sanderson repeated and vouched for Laurens' report, so we're basically hitting all the most reliable sources of Arsenal news.
So yeah, this might actually be happening.
In the larger sense, I have to plead ignorance on French football. I watch very little, and I haven't watched the national team play since the last World Cup. Because of this, I've only seen Yann M'Vila play once, and that was on a stream. I'll meld my experience with what I've read about him: he's a strong player, and a good tackler and more than capable at passing the ball. When playing with Rennes he's a bit more of a rogue midfielder, but with France often is much more disciplined at remaining in the holding/defensive role.
He's a player that (as Jamie Sanderson said) we may be overpaying for a bit, but in my opinion, he's a player that will be welcome at Arsenal. While I like Alex Song, and on occasion his bouts of Songinho-dom are welcome, the team could use a dedicated defender. Our holding midfielder goes rogue. Both of our centerbacks go rogue. Our fullbacks go rogue. This is Arsenal. But it would be nice to have at least one player whose central job responsibility is to not do that. It's possible that M'Vila would not be asked to do this, but at least the option is there.
IN CONCLUSION: This deal is (most likely) not done yet. It appears to be almost done. Yann M'Vila is a good player. The whole thing could fall apart. Watch this space for further developments.