Arsenal summer transfers: Striker situation need resolving

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 01: Alex Lacazette of Arsenal during the Pre Season Friendly match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on August 01, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 01: Alex Lacazette of Arsenal during the Pre Season Friendly match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on August 01, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images) /

If there has been one area of the pitch that Arsenal has had covered over the last two decades or so, it is attack. Players like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robin van Persie and Alexis Sanchez have all graced the red and white shirt with their own brilliance.

Then came a changing of the guard in Alexandre Lacazette and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Both were deemed world-class, however, as the pair get into the latter stages of their careers there has been a noticeable slip – particularly in Aubameyang.

Back-to-back season of 22 goals for the Gabonese international had him right at the pointy end of the conversation as one of the best strikers in world football. However, last campaign he suffered what can only be described as a glaring slump in form, netting just 15 goals in all competitions.

Then there is Lacazette. The Frenchman has never set the league alight to the extent Aubameyang has but unlike his partner, Lacazette’s game is not based solely on goals. He offers far more than that, and in many ways is most suited to what Arteta wants, and that is what sets him apart. Scoring more than 14 times in the Premier League per season wouldn’t go amiss, though. Especially for £50m.

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His build-up play, ability to work with his back to goal, and willingness to chase down opposition defenders are what makes Mikel Arteta start him through the middle instead of Aubameyang.
Yet Arsenal is not just limited to these two options when talking about central strikers. While, yes, they are the more experienced, the exuberance of youth cannot be underestimated.

The likes of Gabriel Martinelli and Folarin Balogun are two such examples along with Eddie Nketiah. Everyone knows what Martinelli brings to the table and has shown he is capable of leading the line – at least leading the press, for sure – Balogun is yet to be given enough time and Nketiah has struggled.

So when it comes to Arsenal’s transfer business this summer, the only players that the club could realistically move on are Lacazette, as he is entering the final year of his current contract, and Nketiah.

While it remains a possibility that Lacazette moves on in the final days of the window, Arsenal will be left with little time to sign a replacement. In Nketiah’s case, rumors have been swirling that Brighton was interested in the striker, although an ankle injury could make it hard to move him on.

With no European football this season there is no need for the Gunners to have so many strikers on its books so expect someone to leave before the window ends. Whether that be permanently or on loan, at least one player will depart. Nketiah certainly has to.

There had been rumors linking Aubameyang and Lacazette with a move to Barcelona, however, as expected, those reports turned out to be complete and utter nonsense. One thing is for certain though, whether it be this window or the winter window, Lacazette will be moving on. A new deal doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.

Should Arsenal sell this summer it would not be for a sizeable fee, but whatever the price might be, that cash injection could, and should, be used to lure another striker to north London. Ideally, the club would not let him go for free but seeing as the Frenchman has made it into the last year of his deal, Arsenal could very well lose him for nothing next summer.

At face value, it does seem a smart option to try and move him on in the next two weeks so the club can at least recoup some money from Lacazette. Whether that happens or not is uncertain.
With Martinelli and Balogun, the Gunners have two young players who have shown a boatload of promise: Martinelli across all competitions and Balogun in the Europa League.

It would be most welcome for Arsenal to bring in a new centre-forward so long as they can shift others, but as anyone will tell you, the problems of this window are not easily overcome. And, perhaps, Martin Odegaard may get Aubameyang and Lacazette firing on all cylinders. That is certainly one of his goals.

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With under two weeks to go in the transfer window, you get a sense that there is still a lot more to play out for Arsenal.