Arsenal: A solution for every possible striker situation this summer

Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images) /
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Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

Aubameyang goes, Lacazette and Nketiah stay

This prospect is also slightly scary, because Arsenal’s reliance on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang just isn’t lessening the way we need it to. Lacazette is just starting to creep back up the ranks, but it’s a slow climb. He and Nketiah simply cannot match Auba’s goal production, and that’s a serious issue.

So what do we need to replace Aubameyang? A proven goalscorer, with the flexibility to play winger and striker, somebody who has the ability to change a game on the spot, and somebody with a solid defensive workrate. Quite the checklist, and an expensive one too.

I don’t predict we’ll get more than £40-50 million for Aubameyang, so this will require some serious research. And while I’d love to cite Gabriel Martinelli here too, I think the young Brazilian’s technical skills and end product need a bit of work.

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The first option available is Marcus Thuram of Borussia Monchengladbach, and he’s very much a like-for-like replacement for Aubameyang. Son of legendary defender Lillian Thuram, he deploys at left-wing or striker most games for Gladbach, but finds himself in the goals wherever he plays—with 14 goals and 9 assists in 39 appearances this season, the former French Ligue 2 player has been a smashing success.

In many ways, he’s similar to Aubameyang. He loves to drive at defenders, cause problems, and cut inside from the flank, unleashing powerful right-footed shots that often arrow into the bottom corner. He’s also one of the most fouled players in the Bundesliga, and his aggressive style will be perfectly suited to the Premier League. And while he’s not lightning-quick, his long-striding turn of speed is nothing to scoff at.

He doesn’t quite have Aubameyang’s magnificent goal tallies, but he’s an incredible asset in possession. A powerful 6’3″, he’s a master of the aerial duel, an area where Arsenal are noticeably weak. His knock-downs and holdup play are nothing short of spectacular, and he’s a major threat from a cross, a perfect target for the whipped crosses of Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin.

And furthermore, he’s a far more involved player than Aubameyang. He’ll defend willingly, with a penchant for a biting tackle to start a counter, and he’s a key member of the Gladbach possession scheme, not just the recipient of the final ball, as Aubameyang so often is. He’s determined, hard working, and never stops running.

And at only 22, the sky is the limit for Marcus Thuram. With a market value around £35 million, the sale of Aubameyang will more than cover his fee. He’s an amazing option, and reportedly isn’t being scouted by other clubs.

The second player—and I’m going out on a limb here, but he is the perfect replacement—is Memphis Depay.  He’s an ideal hybrid between a left-winger and a striker, and his records prove it. He has 5 goals in 5 UCL games this season, and 9 in 12 league starts. That’s an average of a goal contribution every 102 minutes.

Memphis has had a spell in the league before, with a rather paltry Manchester United side. Since then, he has grown as a player and a person, and is ready to make the jump back up into the hardest league in the world. He has augmented the prodigious dribbling skill and technical shooting that we saw during his term in Manchester with hard work, an expert eye for a key pass, and a penchant for getting stuck into matches, bouncing back when things don’t go his way.

The 26-year-old is a right-footed left-winger cum center-forward in the prime of his career. He’s flexible and versatile, and with a half-decade of good years ahead him, we’d be signing him at the peak of his powers. And that’s just Depay on paper.

He’s a dribbling specialist, with the skills to pay the bills. Unlike our Ivorian on the other wing, he has developed a prodigious workrate, and while his defensive inclinations aren’t the strongest, he doesn’t dive into tackles, instead using his composure and vision to cut passing lanes and start counter attacks.

Best of all, where he loses out to Aubameyang in goals scored he makes up in key passes and chance creation. He plays an average of 2.1 key passes per game, along with 1 cross and 1.2 successful long balls. He’s only dispossessed 1.7 times per game, and rarely takes a touch wrong. And oddly enough for an attacking player, he’s tackled more players than have dribbled past him, an inclination of his defensive ability.

The only downside would be the price—I estimate he would cost between £50 and £60 million, but I am confident that selling Aubameyang would raise the necessary funds, and it would be worth it for somebody like Memphis.

On to the next alternative, and the one that looks the most likely