Replacing Alex Lacazette
By Sumaiya Vawda
Standing in for Alexandere Lacazette (in his current form) is not the most challenging job in world football as Eddie Nketiah proved. A bit of mobility and industry, and BAM! , two goals against the reigning European champions. For the shortcomings at striker, Arsenal have reportedly targeted young high-end prospects like Dusan Vlahovic, Darwin Nunez, Victor Osimhem and Alexander Isak. None from this set of players is above 23 years old, nor have they any Premier League exposure. Thus, Lacazette’s experience should be replaced in Arteta’s young squad.
If Lacazette and Nketiah leave the club (as anticipated) Arsenal will require two centre forwards to supplement the squad. One youthful striker will not be sufficient for a team featuring in European competition, even if Folarin Balogun were to return and Martinelli be used centrally. Thus journalists, such as David Ornstein, have confirmed that Arteta is seeking two forward signings. There is good reason to seek a Laca-esque figure to guide a star acquisition. Of course, this signing should also contribute to the team’s goal tally. Below are some of the players with potential to fill the senior striking void without breaking the bank.
The 26-year old’s Bayern Munich contract expires in 2023 and he is reportedly surveying options in England and Spain. Beyond the financial package, Gnabry is displeased with his use out wide in Julian Nagelsmann’s set-up. His desire to feature centrally could make him a left-field option for an experienced head in the Gunners’ forward line. Of course there’s uncertainty over his adaptability to the striking role, but his statistics as a winger (when adjusted for the Premier League’s strength) are impressive. He has scored 16 and assisted 6 between the Bundesliga and Europe this season. An ex-Arsenal lad with Champions League-winning pedigree? That sounds tempting.
The Englishman has 6 years of experience in the top flight and carries the aerial threat Tierney’s crosses desire. While his recent injury bouts are a major concern, Everton’s potential relegation would earn them a fraction of the £70 million once touted in transfer fees. Now 25 years-old, Calvert-Lewin could complement a more technically-able striker signing.
The Swiss international features on this list for little reason more than statistically profiling similarly to Lacazette. There is an overlap in the pair’s shot-creating actions, tackles and pressures numbers. Embolo has strong xA projections but is sub-par aerially despite being 6 ft 2 inches in height. He has 7 goals and 2 assists in the Bundesliga this season. The 25-year old recently showed appreciation for Granit Xhaka’s nutmeg that sprung a counter-attack against Chelsea. Cue the rumours…
A 25-year old with 57 Premier League goals (and 29 assists) playing for the best team in the land; where do we sign up? Jesus arrives with Pep Guardiola’s (and subsequently Arteta’s) style of play pre-loaded. The Brazilian can also rotate into the right wing role (if Pépé were to depart) from which he has amassed a non-penalty xG per 90 tally in the 96th percentile. Transfer fees in the region of £25m-£35m have been speculated due to his contract running down at Man City. This is an opportunity to sign a player that ticks all the boxes at a cut price. Edu would do well to find better.
David Ornstein has reported that the Frenchman will leave Borussia Mönchengladbach at the end of the season for a fee in the region of £10m-£15m. In 2020, Arséne Wenger likened the player to Thierry Henry in terms of technical ability, physical capacity and game intelligence. While he hasn’t notched up the goals this season, he profiles most closely to Diogo Jota and Kai Havertz. Incidentally, Chelsea and Liverpool are also keen on the 25-year old. Thuram has occupied the striker role but is primarily a left winger. This makes him a versatile option but perhaps not the experienced secondary striker needed.
How does 41 goals in a season sound? Following his record-breaking season in the championship, Mitrović may be ready for a challenge higher up the Premier League table. While not a player one would associate with Arsenal’s style, his finishing, heading and hold-up play is laudable. His past Premier League seasons, however, indicate that he may be better suited to a team with mid-table ambition.