It's official: Robin van Persie has refused to extend his contract.
On his official website, van Persie stated:
Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don't want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.
Many saw it coming, and perhaps the acquisition of Lukas Podolski and Oliver Giroud were telling signs of his departure.
Nevertheless, the prolific Dutchaman, who netted home 30 goals in the Premier League last season, will either leave Arsenal this year or the next year on a Bosman transfer. However, I have the feeling that Arsene Wenger will be wise enough to cash in on Van Persie than lose him for free next year.
Van Persie's departure will obviously leave a gaping hole in the offensive end, and an ideal replacement is a must. Here are five replacements that might be worthwhile to pursue.
Strikers are by the plenty at cash-rich Manchester City. With a plethora of options to choose from—Mario Balotelli, Sergio Agüero and Carlos Tevez—Roberto Mancini has no apparent need of the Bosnian.
Manchester City might make a bid for Robin van Persie, and perhaps Edin Dzeko could be included in the transfer deal. At Manchester City, squad rotation has perhaps hurt him the most, curtailing his playing time and thereby making him disconcerted.
Dzeko is a crucial finisher, and in 30 appearances for the Citizens this past season, Dzeko slotted home 14 goals, including the crucial equalizer against Queens Park Rangers on deadline day to help City win the Premier League title.
Dzeko is 26, young enough to improve massively under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger, yet old enough to lead the Arsenal front line. He is indeed a proven talent.
During his Bundesliga campaign with Vfl Wolfsburg, he was the second highest goal-scorer in the 2008-09 season when he helped the club win the Bundesliga, while he was the highest goal-scorer the season after. He also registered 10 assists in both of the seasons with the German outfit.
At Arsenal, he would gel well with the squad, and on account of his EPL experience should need no time fitting in.
Who better to replace Van Persie than his identical double? Well not exactly, but the similarities are there.
Huntelaar, like Van Persie, is Dutch and is a prolific striker. With 29 league goals last season for Schalke 04, and a total of 38 goals in all competitions, Huntelaar would be an ideal replacement for Van Persie.
Some might argue that he is an even better finisher than Van Persie, as he was clinical for the Dutch during their qualifying campaign scoring 12 goals for The Oranje; Van Persie netted only six.
Demba Ba represents another viable option for Arsenal. The Senegalese striker has been on fire ever since he joined the Premier League, scoring 16 goals for Newcastle United.
Voted the best signing of the 2011/12 season by Premier League managers, Ba was instrumental in Newcastle’s strong finish in the Premier League which saw the Toon Army finished above Chelsea and Liverpool.
Ba represents someone who is adjusted to the pace and physicality of the Premier League. He is strong in the air and finishes strongly.
He would be a quality addition to the Arsenal roster.
Papiss Demba Cisse
While Demba Ba proved sensational for Newcastle, Papiss Demba Cisse was the driving force in Newcastle’s second half. Cisse's contribution, alongside Ba's, earned Newcastle, as aforementioned, a highly respectable finish.
After signing for Newcastle for Bundesliga outfit Freiburg, Cisse scored 13 goals in 14 appearances for Newcastle, including two wonder strikes against Chelsea.
Cisse has at least a couple of years of top-flight football left in him, and he would be able to lead the Arsenal front line alongside Oliver Giroud and Lukas Podolski.
The big Pole has been impressive for German giants Borussia Dortmund, and alongside Shinji Kagawa played a major role in Dortmund’s title defence in the 2011/12 season.
He also helped Dortmund win a cup double by scoring a hat-trick against Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal final. 2011/12 was a successful year for the Pole, and it culminated in him winning the Bundesliga Player of the Season.
Arsenal might be able to lure the Pole away if they cough up enough cash, and with the sale of Robin van Persie that should not posit a problem. A sweet contract for Lewandowski might be enough to bring him to the Emirates.
At Arsenal, he will also have the opportunity to play alongside Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski, both seasoned veterans of the Bundesliga. He is also only 23, and he would fit in well with Wenger’s youth policy, the major difference being Lewandowski is a finished, world-class product.
Follow me on Twitter @BrenGoetze.
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