Why Evan Ferguson should be Arsenal's only striker target

  • Arsenal's search for a new striker should be focused on Brighton & Hove Albion teenage sensation Evan Ferguson
Nottingham Forest v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Nottingham Forest v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League / Neal Simpson/Allstar/GettyImages

A top-notch centre-forward may be the only thing missing from Mikel Arteta's Premier League title-chasing Arsenal squad. More to the point, a top-notch goalscorer is needed to complement the all-round brilliance of Gabriel Jesus, and Brighton & Hove Albion's Evan Ferguson is the perfect transfer target.

Ferguson ticks all of the usual boxes for the Gunners. He's a young talent on the rise with his best years ahead of him. That's not to say the 19-year-old hasn't already proved himself at the highest level.

Brighton's frontman torments top-flight defenders with power, deceptive pace and subtle movement. His best quality is as a clever and classy finisher, something Arsenal could learn the hard way if Ferguson adds to his tally when Brighton visit the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The numbers catch the eye, with Ferguson netting six Premier League goals already to prove last season's sudden emergence was no fluke, per Statman Dave.

There's something more than the numbers, though. That almost indefinable something in the way Ferguson takes many of his goals.

Mere words don't do his special quality justice, but we know it when we see it. Like when Ferguson scored this superbly taken goal in last season's FA Cup.

The mix of superior strength and deft technique is what every manager wants from a striker, but it's a rare combination. Ferguson already has it, one reason why he's merited lofty praise from no less an authority on strikers than Alan Shearer.

Premier League's all-time goalscorer gives Evan Ferguson seal of approval

Shearer still tops the Premier League scoring charts with 260 goals. What set Shearer apart was his complete game, something he thinks Ferguson shares:

"Left foot, right foot, headers, pace, aggression, intuition; there is no obvious weakness to his game, which is only going to get better and better. He has the lot."

Alan Shearer, writing for The Athletic

Ferguson has all the physical attributes needed to score any kind of goal, but Shearer is also a fan of how the teenager varies his method of attack:

"I love how he can bully defenders. I love his positioning, I love how he’s always asking different questions of the centre-half, either going up against him or, as he did against Newcastle, dropping in short, getting the ball to feet and turning. I love his movement in the box. Perhaps most of all, I love the purity and ferocity of his hunger; how much he craves goals."

Alan Shearer, writing for The Athletic

These levels of athletic talent and intelligent variety mean Ferguson should get among the goals and stay there throughout his career. He can also be the more upmarket version of Arsenal's current No. 9.

Evan Ferguson would take the Gabriel Jesus role up a level

Jesus has a key role in Arteta's tactical setup. He's a relentless presser along the forward line, but also the player who drops off the front and leaves spaces for Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard to attack through the middle.

Arsenal are a better side whenever Jesus is on the pitch, but by his own admission, the Brazilian is not a natural goalscorer. His self-confessed deficiencies raise questions about whether Arsenal can win the title with Jesus leading the line.

Ferguson would add the goals Jesus sometimes struggles to find. Brighton's young star also has it in his game to be a key part of Arsenal's creativity in the final third.

Ferguson's already emulated Gunners great Cesc Fabregas for goal involvements in the Premier League, per OptaJoe.

Fabregas modernised Arsenal's style of play when he got into the starting XI. Ferguson would have the same level of impact, so Arteta needs to beat the other big-name suitors likely to show interest in the striker.

Manchester United are already sniffing around, despite Ferguson being under contract until 2029. The terms of his deal do "not include a release clause," according to The Athletic's Andy Naylor, so it's going to take a small fortune to convince Brighton to sell.

Getting money to spend hasn't been a problem for Arteta during his Arsenal tenure. Far from it. He should convince club brass that paying big for Ferguson now is a better investment than a transfer for Brentford's Ivan Toney or committing money to other positions and sticking with what he has at striker.