Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Arsenal's Search For A Striker Continues In Vain

Arsenal had their problems in front of goal last season, but they somehow managed to sneak into second place on the final day of the season. On the face of it second place was their best finish in the Premier League since 2005, but it's impossible not to believe they blew a great chance to win their first title in 12 years. With all of the other big clubs falling by the wayside the route to the title was laid out in front of them, but they weren't up to the task when the chips were down.

Next season will surely see the likes of United, Chelsea, City and Liverpool making a better challenge for the title and Arsenal will have to improve just to try to keep pace. The team and squad certainly need strengthening and the most pressing position to fill is that of a striker. 

At the moment we have Olivier Giroud who has just lost the final of Euro 2016 with France and has a holiday to take before he can even think of the new season which begins in 31 days. After Giroud the options disappear very quickly with Danny Welbeck injured until the new year at least and Theo Walcott clearly not a genuine option. After that we're looking at players like Yaya Sanogo and Chuba Akpom, but they can't be real alternatives for a starting position against Liverpool on August 14.

With all of that in mind there is a pressing need for a striker and it's a need which has to be addressed very quickly. It looked like Jamie Vardy was going to be the easy option for Arsenal when they activated the release clause in his contract, but he chose to stay with Leicester City. His rejection was certainly a blow and the club need to target the player they need and do their business as quickly as possible.

There has been plenty of speculation and the list of names seems to grow by the day. Whether any of those players will end up at the club or not is another thing, but one thing is certain and that is a striker is an absolute necessity if Arsenal are going to challenge next season. It's not going to be easy to find the right player and there seems to be a real lack of quality strikers available at anything approaching a reasonable price. Arsenal are probably going to have to pay over the odds for any striker they buy and Arsene Wenger is not exactly known for paying over the odds.

First up there's Gonzalo Higuain who is apparently available for a fee in the region of £60 million, but that fee increases with each day as Sterling decreases in value. Higuain broke goalscoring records in Italy last season and he could be just the striker we need, but it's an awful lot of money for a player who will have no resale value when his contract is up. At 28 he's at his prime though and he would surely be an improvement on the current options. There has been some mention of Giroud going in the other direction as a makeweight in the deal, but surely Arsenal need to keep him too.

After Higuain the next option seems to be Alexandre Lacazette and he would probably cost half of what Napoli want for Higuain. The question is whether Lacazette would be an improvement on the current options and it's not easy to imagine he would be. He didn't make the French squad for the Euros though and Giroud had a pretty good tournament. At 25 he is approaching his prime and if we could get the best out of him he might just be the best option of those that are being mooted.

Next up is Alvaro Morato and he's another player who's name just won't seem to go away. He's only 23 years old, but I can't say I have been overly impressed with his goalscoring record to date. Real Madrid brought him back from Juventus just to sell him on it seems and it looks like they will auction him off to the highest bidder. For me I think Arsenal should steer clear, but the chances are they won't be making a move for him anyway at the price currently being mentioned.

Romelu Lukaku is another player who won't seem to go away and he has an impressive goalscoring record so far. He's still got time on his side, but I can't say he looks an awful lot better than Giroud although he does have more pace. Again I can't see Arsenal paying the money which Everton are reportedly looking for and I'm not sure he's the striker we need either.

Finally there's Maurco Icardi whose wife has apparently spilled the beans on an impending move from Inter. With Arsenal in need of a striker it's easy to put two and two together and say we're in for Icardi, but I don't think there's too much to these rumours. Like Lukaku and Lacazette he has time on his side and his club goalscoring record is quite good, but Arsenal need the finished article and he's certainly not that just yet.

It's impossible to know which (if any) of these players will join Arsenal, but the rumours will continue with the need so pressing. Hopefully the right player will arrive and very soon and just maybe it will be a player none of us have even considered so far. The boss has brought in a few surprise signings over the years and some of them have worked out and I wouldn't be surprised to see him do it again.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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