This area of the squad was considered locked down in terms of personnel with other departments correctly deemed of a higher priority. Oh how times change. With the new Premier League season fast approaching, suddenly the striker situation at Arsenal isn’t so clear cut.
With four centre-forwards on the books as the meeting with Brentford on Friday looms, work is underway to trim down that number by half.
Watching Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struggle once more having been thrust out onto the left wing and seeing Alexandre Lacazette continue to drop deep and link play only to leave the penalty box deserted as Kieran Tierney prepares a whipped cross is, it’s fair to say, less than inspiring.
Behind those two are Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun, very much the present and the future of Arsenal.
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Arsenal: 3 strikers linked with Mikel Arteta’s side ahead of transfer deadline as centre-forward concerns with Lacazette and Nketiah remain
Nketiah is only the present until he is sold, a move being pushed by Arsenal after the 21-year-old rejected a new contract. With less than a year left on his deal it would be disastrous not to secure a sale. His injury hasn’t helped any exit be sped up, although reports of interest from Brighton is reassuring.
Balogun has a huge future in store but with two No. 9’s ahead of him in the pecking order, if Lacazette isn’t sold, which grows worryingly likely despite the usual late window flurry, then a loan with regular minutes would surely suit best.
Despite still having four on the books, the rumours have persisted this summer with Mikel Arteta aiming to sound out the man to lead the line in the mid-term. Possibly even sooner. Lacazette has a year left maximum; the way Aubameyang is looking suggests it could also be just a year; Balogun is only 20 and inexperienced; and Nketiah will be moved on.
Gabriel Martinelli is someone who provides an option in that role, too. But should Arsenal succeed in shifting Lacazette and Nketiah it’s become apparent another striker will be brought in this summer. A few have been mentioned and, even in the last few days, three appear to be top of the wishlist.
1. Lautaro Martinez – Inter
The English media and those of a north London affiliation were sent into a frenzy on Sunday in the build-up to Tottenham vs Arsenal, with numerous outlets reporting that Spurs had a £60m+ offer accepted by Inter for Lautaro Martinez.
Given how strongly linked the Gunners were, it felt like a huge kick in the teeth.
Then, not long after, the Italian press came storming in with their side of the story, all of which pooh-poohed everything up until that point in stating that Inter will not sell now Romelu Lukaku has gone (Fabrizio Romano), and certainly won’t do so for less than €90m.
Anyone getting any Euro 2020 final flashbacks?
That didn’t stop other claims elsewhere that Arsenal remain interested, but they can firmly be put to bed now with all of the latest developments.
The Argentine’s agent, Alejandro Camano, has now spoken out to put an end to what were already faint hopes, stating:
"“Lautaro is an Inter player and is happy in Italy. The renewal? Lautaro is from Inter, he will never enter into conflict with the club. Never, this is reality,” he told FCInter1908. “Lautaro Martinez is happy at Inter and in Italy. His decision is to stay. The relationship with Inter is perfect. Lautaro Martinez is calm. Yes, it is true that there were offers, but today he is fine and we will sit down to talk about the future.”"
With that one put to bed, the other two names mentioned include one who grows ever the more likely.