Should a striker be Arsenal's summer transfer priority?

  • Arsenal have been clinical in front of goal recently so it asks the question, should a striker really be the priority this summer?

Gabriel Jesus celebrates his goal against Nottingham Forest
Gabriel Jesus celebrates his goal against Nottingham Forest / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

In the eyes of many fans, Arsenal have been in desperate need of a striker for some time. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's drop in form during the 2020/21 season and his subsequent departure a year later saw the club lose their most recent top-quality finisher.

During the 2022 summer transfer window, the Gunners bought Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City and gave Eddie Nketiah a new five-year contract along with the legendary number 14 shirt. This acted as a sign to fans that this pair would be Arsenal's striker options for the foreseeable future, but neither have been able to find consistency when it comes to scoring goals.

There have been times this season where Arsenal's need for a proper striker has been glaringly obvious, but the recent winning run sparks a good argument against this.

When asked what the Gunners' summer plans are, The Athletic's David Ornstein said: "A striker is the main focus and they admire Benjamin Sesko, Viktor Gyokeres, Evan Ferguson and others." With Ornstein being one of the best sources for Arsenal news, it seems safe to say the hunt for a striker will be at the top of the list for Mikel Arteta this summer.

Should this really be the priority though?

Arsenal's goalscoring in 2023/24

Bukayo Saka celebrates against Newcastle United
Bukayo Saka is Arsenal's top goalscorer so far this season / Julian Finney/GettyImages

Arsenal have scored 62 goals in 26 league games so far this season and have netted 81 in 37 matches across all competitions. The overall stats for the campaign and recent scoring run would suggest that finding the back of the net hasn't been an issue, but there have been times when a striker has been desperately needed.

The Gunners' most woeful period in front of goal was in late December. A 2-0 defeat to West Ham at the Emirates had fans screaming out for Mikel Arteta to bring a goalscoring striker to the club. This game saw Arsenal have 77 touches in the opposition box - the most on record for a team that failed to score since the 2008/09 season.

Arsenal finished the game having had 30 shots and an xG of 2.73 and still failed to score. With this defeat, the Gunners had taken 81 shots in their previous four games and scored only three goals. The high xG against the Hammers demonstrated that the team are more than capable of creating chances and that the problem lies with the finishing.

After two more defeats, Arsenal travelled to Dubai for a training camp during the league's winter break. They returned from this trip looking like a different side and kicked off their ongoing winning run with a 5-0 victory at home to Crystal Palace.

Since the win over Palace, the Gunners have defeated Nottingham Forest, Liverpool, West Ham United, Burnley and Newcastle United. Across this run, Arsenal have scored 25 goals, with 18 of these coming in February alone, and outperformed their xG in all but one of these matches.

This outperformance shows that this current team can be relied on to score goals even without a proper striker. However, as the December dip in form showed, it is entirely possible for scoring to become difficult seemingly at the flick of a switch.

Arsenal having such a high xG in so many games this season demonstrates that this current team is more than capable of creating chances, but the dips in scoring form make it seem that a striker is the final piece of the puzzle for Mikel Arteta.

Should another position be priority?

Pedro Neto
Pedro Neto has been a long-term target for Arsenal / Malcolm Couzens/GettyImages

Ornstein also wrote last week that Arsenal have had a long-term desire to bring in a wide player to act as a backup and competition. Bukayo Saka has been the Gunners' number-one choice on the right wing for over three years, and understandably so! The England international continues to improve as each season goes on but a lack of competition can always bring about complacency and fatigue due to overusage.

Ornstein reported that Pedro Neto is an option, albeit not the only one, but Arsenal will be unlikely to pay the £80m asking price. A winger has seemed to be on the agenda over the past few transfer windows with the club notoriously missing out on Raphinha and Mykhailo Mudryk in 2022 and 2023 respectively. Considering this, a winger should be near the top of the shopping list for the summer transfer window.

Depending on departures, a central midfielder could also be needed. There is a particular interest in Real Sociedad's Martin Zubimendi. A defensive player could be brought to the club due to Oleksandr Zinchenko and Takehiro Tomiyasu's frequent injury problems. However, these two positions should not be the club's priority for the transfer window.

What should Arsenal's summer transfer priority be?

Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta will have thinking to do ahead of the transfer window / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/GettyImages

Despite Arsenal's clinical finishing in front of goal so far in 2024, a striker should still be the priority for the summer transfer window. As the dip in December showed, this team are more than capable of creating chances but the problem lies with the finishing. The current set of players should be good enough in front of goal to keep the Gunners in this season's title race, but Mikel Arteta must add a top-quality striker to his squad this summer.

Arsenal must also have a winger near the top of their shopping list. Saka has been relied upon too often over the past few seasons and must be provided with a backup to not only compete with him but also allow him to be rested in less crucial games.

Bringing in a top goalscorer and backup for Bukayo should elevate the Gunners to the next level and ensure they continue to compete consistently for the most lucrative honours. Once these two positions are dealt with, the club can look at bringing in a new midfielder and defender.