Arsene Wenger has talked of his interest in Montpellier playmaker Younes Belhanda, saying on Monday that
I love this player, but I do not want to create problems. Montpellier will decide if he leaves. Once that happens we might look at him, but we respect Montpellier.
Belhanda, 22, is a Moroccan international, and has had a decent season for second-placed Montpellier, scoring 8 and assisting 3. He's played on the left of a 4-2-3-1, allowing him to cut in, much like Arsenal's left winger does now. According to Wenger he is a player who
plays without any complexities. His real talent is dribbling, passing and he has good technique which can influence any game. I am sure of his potential.
This skill set has seen Belhanda's manager, Rene Girard, compare him to Invincible Robert Pires, which seems a bit rich for a player who has 12 goals and 8 assists in 98 games (i.e., a record that Pires equalled in his worst season at Arsenal, 2005-06).
Belhanda is, though, just 22, and he has shown that he is a very good technical player. He has a very good range of passing, as Wenger has said, and he can play on the left or through the middle. Because of this, he might seem the natural replacement for Samir Nasri, if Arsenal were to buy him.
That, however, is not set in stone. Arsene Wenger has talked about how he likes players numerous times, including Juan Mata when he was linked to Arsenal last summer. Just because Arsene Wenger likes you doesn't mean he's going to sign you, as many players in Europe may attest to. If Montpellier were to get an offer, they would probably sell; despite the likelihood of being in the Champions League next season, they are a selling club. The bigger question is if Wenger would buy him; that depends on whether he's good enough, and whether he's needed. He's had a pretty good season, but nothing out of the ordinary; Gervinho had a much better season last year, with more goals and more assists. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who would be a direct competitor with Belhanda, has shown as much, if not more potential than the Moroccan, and he seems well-suited to the physicality of the Premier League. He's also shown more consistency at age 18 than Belhanda has at age 22.
Belhanda isn't a bad player, and he's still quite young, but it might be best to not buy him this year and see how he plays in the Champions League. Wenger may like the player, but he also might have that idea in mind, or he might not be that interested in him. I wouldn't be surprised if Belhanda is a 4th or 5th choice option this summer, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to not see him in an Arsenal shirt next season. Arsenal have need of a playmaker, but for a similar amount of money they could get someone better, like Moussa Dembele.