Why Arsenal should prioritise signing a winger over a striker this summer

Arsenal and Mikel Arteta's priority in the Summer transfer window shouldn't be a new striker. The Gunners should instead focus on recruiting a winger to support Bukayo Saka and add more options in attack.
Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla FC - LaLiga EA Sports
Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla FC - LaLiga EA Sports / Ion Alcoba Beitia/GettyImages

Forget about a striker, a winger should be at the top of Arsenal's shopping list for this summer's transfer window. A dynamic wideman would give Mikel Arteta more options to get creative in attack, not to mention finally easing the burden on Bukayo Saka.

You don't have to search high and wide for links between Arsenal and viable strikers in this transfer window. The idea Arteta's squad is a quality No. 9 short of being able to dominate, both domestically and in Europe, is a popular notion, but there's a better way to spend the club's money during the sunny season.

That better way involves adding a winger. Preferably a player versatile enough to also operate through the middle, if necessary. Such flexibility would be useful, but not essential. Not compared to relieving some of the pressure on Saka.

Arsenal's world-class wing wizard is a marked man because so much of the Gunners' attacking play goes through him. Talent isn't the only reason for the favouritism shown to the gifted No. 7 on the right, though.

There's another reason Arsenal remain Saka-heavy up top. The club doesn't have a star of similar stature on the left flank.

Gabriel Martinelli has the raw ability to be as good as Saka, but injuries and a different style of play have hampered the Brazilian's progress in crucial moments. Martinelli's stalled development left the door open for clutch goalscorer Leandro Trossard, and there was good reason the Belgian's Freddie Ljungberg tribute act was so warmly received by fans.

Even casual observers of this Arsenal team can see Saka reliance is reaching dangerously high levels. To quote investing parlance, the Gunners are overweighted to the right and could use some diversification.

Fortunately, there are some intriguing candidates on the market who are apparently catching Arteta's eye.

Nico Williams, Michael Olise show Arsenal's transfer search headed in right direction

Michael Olise
Arsenal are one of several clubs to express an interest in Michael Olise / Alex Davidson/GettyImages

The early(ish) rumours suggest Arteta is already planning to spend his latest pile of cash to strengthen the flanks. Consider this from Simon Collings of the London Evening Standard:

"The Gunners could move to sign a new winger instead. Athletic Bilbao’s Nico Williams is of interest, though his wages may prove a stumbling block.

Mikel Arteta has spoken of the need for Arsenal to create magic moments in attack and Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise is one player on the market who could provide them."

Simon Collings

Of the two, Athletic Bilbao gem Williams is the most intriguing. The 21-year-old Spain international has the mercurial mix of direct pace and impish trickery all truly marquee wingers possess.

Having Williams twist and turn freely over on the left would take some of the attention away from the other side. Defences would be stretched beyond breaking point by two players prepared to maintain the width and call those few blades of grass the live side of the touchline home.

More than doubling up on the Saka effect, going winger-first in the transfer market would also preserve the unpredictability through the middle that made Arsenal prolific in front of goal last season.

Arsenal already have enough of the right kind of strikers

Thierry Henry isn't sweating his place atop the clubs' scoring charts while Kai Havertz is playing striker. Yet, the German added so much more than goals once he became the full-time focal point of Arsenal's fluid forward line.

Havertz, the striker in name only, offered varied and subtle movement. His willingness to drift left was Henry-esque, while Havertz dropping off the front was reminiscent of Robin van Persie.

Havertz became hard to track, while his darts hither and yonder gave Arsenal a shape-shifting quality at the business end of the pitch. He created space for Saka and Trossard to dart from out to in, while Declan Rice could power through the middle from midfield.

The beauty of this dynamic is Havertz being only one part of the Arsenal Rubik's Cube. Gabriel Jesus is another de facto No. 9 who's actually at his best rotating deeper or wandering wide. Even Trossard's done a passable impression of a false nine.

It's obvious the Gunners have enough of the right kind of strikers to keep opponents guessing and stay in the goals. The case for sticking with what they have at the position is only strengthened by another look Martinelli's way.

Awesome straight-line speed and a keen eye for goal mean the 22-year-old's future will surely be as a striker. Even if he isn't short of a trick out wide.

Signing a winger this summer can help Arteta begin Martinelli's transition to central areas in earnest.

The two-pronged approach would also be more cost effective than going all in on the latest striking sensation. Not that Arteta's ever been a bargain hunter, but he did establish his managerial creds with some fine work developing wingers Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane for Manchester City.

Arteta continued in the same way by making Saka his pride and joy. Now's the time to find another precocious wide forward.