Serge Aurier: All you need to know as Tottenham close on signing defender
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 31/08/17 12:29am
Serge Aurier has been granted a work permit ahead of a £23m move from Paris Saint-Germain to Tottenham, according to Sky sources.
The Ivory Coast international is a talented full-back who would head to north London as a replacement for Kyle Walker, but he is also a controversial character with a history of misdemeanors.
So what do you need to know about the 24-year-old? Here, we answer the key questions…
What's his back story?
Aurier was born in the Ivory Coast but moved to France with his family at a young age. He came through the youth ranks at Lens, signing his first professional contract with the club in the summer of 2009 and making his senior debut the following December.
Aurier finished that season having made 11 appearances in all competitions, and in 2010/11 he became a regular starter in the same backline as Raphael Varane. Aurier showed plenty of promise, but the cash-strapped French side were eventually relegated to Ligue 2.
After staying with Lens for the first half of 2011/12, Aurier sealed a return to Ligue 1 with Toulouse, where he soon became a key player. At the end of 2013/14, when he scored six goals and claimed six assists in 34 appearances, he was even nominated for the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award.
Aurier was duly linked with a move to Arsenal, describing a move to the Emirates Stadium as his "dream", but he ended up joining PSG on loan with an option to buy. The move was made permanent when he penned a four-year contract with the French giants in the summer of 2015.
How good is he?
Aurier's talent is not in doubt. The Ivorian possesses outstanding speed, strength and stamina, and he is also a diligent defender. In the 2015/16 campaign, he averaged more tackles (4) and more interceptions (3.4) per game than any other PSG player. The stats show he has registered similar numbers ever since his days at Lens.
Aurier's biggest strengths, however, lie at the other end of the pitch. The 24-year-old is an attacking full-back who loves to create chances and get on the end of things. His impressive total of six goals and six assists in his final season at Toulouse showed his effectiveness in the final third, and his marauding runs up their right flank were a dangerous outlet for PSG, too.
Tottenham are not the only club to have taken an interest in Aurier this summer. He has been linked with Barcelona and Juventus, and his representative says he has also been monitored by Manchester United and Chelsea. Such a distinguished list of suitors is evidence of his quality.
What's happened off the pitch?
Aurier's footballing ability only tells half of the story. Indeed, his asking price might be significantly higher if it wasn't for a history of controversies off the pitch.
The most recent came last summer, when he was handed a two-month suspended jail sentence for assaulting a police officer outside a Paris nightclub. It meant that when PSG travelled to London to face Arsenal in the Champions League last November, the UK Home Office rejected his visa application.
Aurier successfully appealed the verdict, with the French courts downgrading the criminal conviction on Wednesday. That decision allowed him to successfully submit a work permit application for his move to Spurs, but the whole episode is still an unwanted blemish on his record.
That incident came just a few months after Aurier was filmed using a homophobic slur to describe former PSG manager Laurent Blanc while also criticising some of his team-mates.
He initially claimed the video was fake, before admitting his mistake and issuing an apology. PSG responded by suspending him for two months. He returned to action before the end of the season and continued to feature under Unai Emery last season, but the questions over his character remain.