Drogba praise for Aurier

Didier Drogba says that his Ivory Coast team-mate Serge Aurier has the capacity to step up seamlessly to the Premier League if and when a mooted transfer takes place.

The Toulouse right-back has been linked persistently to Arsenal, who are searching for reinforcements after Bacary Sagna completed a move to Manchester City, and enhanced his prospects with a decisive performance in the 2-1 win over Japan.

Aurier produced two crosses within three second-half minutes to turn the Group E match on its head, his flat, accurate deliveries met by headers from Wilfried Bony and Gervinho. It was an impact that prompted Drogba, who was introduced as a substitute with his side a goal down, to predict a continued rise for the 21-year-old.

“Serge brought us energy and balance and he had a fantastic game,” Drogba told Fifa.com. “He’s the best right-back in all of France. I think he’ll do well at the next level too, in the Premier League.”

Aurier, whose assists came on his World Cup debut, said that his achievement was difficult to take in. “I can’t believe it,” he said. “It’s my first World Cup, we’re here in Brazil and I helped the team to win. It’s like a dream.”

An attack-minded right-back, Aurier scored six goals in Ligue 1 last season for a Toulouse side that finished in ninth place. His has been a steep rise to prominence: he only made his Ivory Coast debut on 8 June last year, and he was playing for the French second tier side Lens as recently as 2012.

Ivory Coast contest their second group game on Thursday, facing Colombia in Brasilia. Drogba, their captain, believes that an injection of youth into what had been an ageing side – the likes of Aurier and Swansea striker Bony coming to the fore – has given cause for optimism. “It’s good to see we have a new generation coming through,” he said. “This is what we need and it’s good for our football. It gives us energy. It gives us spirit.”

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