Most of us usually love to speculate about prospective transfers and signings. After all, there is something strangely satisfying about scouting the world’s most talented players from the comfort of your living room.
Having said that, on this occasion, I’m going to be speculating with a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. Today, I am going in search of replacements for a player who is currently the heart and soul of the Gunners.
It’s abundantly clear that Robin van Persie currently sees his future unfolding away from the Emirates. While his departure is by no means guaranteed, we must still waste no time in searching for a man who could potentially replace the Arsenal skipper in the event that he chooses to leave the club this summer.
Here is a shortlist of five candidates that I feel would be best suited to replace the man that we affectionately know as RVP.
Seydou Doumbia is perhaps the most intriguing prospect on this list. The Ivorian seemingly scores goals for fun at CSKA Moscow (31 goals in 43 appearances last season). As a result, he has built a reputation as one of the most electrifying forwards in Europe.
Doumbia possesses explosive pace, a keen eye for the net and is a menace whenever he has the ball at his feet. That being said, these attributes do not necessarily lend themselves to success in terms of being a target man.
Van Persie will be departing a role in which it’s vital that the striker can hold up the ball and distribute it to his surrounding attackers—two elements that I am not quite sure Doumbia could master.
Having said that, at 24 years of age, and for a potential fee of around £15million, he may just be too explosive for Wenger to pass up.
The next player on our list is Fiorentina’s Montenegrin superstar Stevan Jovetic.
Jovetic’s name has been thrown around in the tabloids over the past week as a potential Van Persie replacement—and with good reason, too. Jovetic has an incredible mix of creativity, flair and exquisite technique. It’s a combination that you can’t really help but compare to that of the great Roberto Baggio.
There are very few players in the world right now who are better suited to play in behind another striker, and whilst this is glowing praise, it effectively eliminates Jovetic as a direct replacement for Van Persie.
I mean no disrespect to Jovetic, but he is simply not equipped to play the same role that Van Persie plays for Arsenal. For that reason, I can’t help but feel that signing Jovetic would likely have to come with a tactical shift in order to best utilise his abilities.
Jovetic may be the most talented player on this list, and at just 22 years of age, he would most certainly be worth the £25million that he would likely command. On the other hand, that sum might just be too costly for a player who isn’t an ideal fit for Arsenal’s style of play.
Going into Euro 2012, Robert Lewandowski was essentially single-handedly responsible for the astronomical hopes that I held for host-nation Poland.
You will be challenged to find a more well-rounded striker than Lewandowski. He boasts impressive physicality, fine technique and is a clinical finisher (30 goals in 46 games for Dortmund last season).
At just 23 years of age, Lewandowski is bursting at the seams with talent. If he could adapt to the physical nature of the Premier League, he could light up the score-sheet on a weekly basis.
If Wenger has faith that Lewandowski can manage the Premier League’s physicality, then at £20million, he would be a wise investment.
Arsenal would have to face off with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham for his services, but with compatriots Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski on board already, Arsenal may just be able to beat the others to his signature.
From a morale standpoint, there would be no better replacement for Robin van Persie than Fernando Llorente.
In a hugely successful career at Athletic Bilbao, Llorente has established himself as a household name amongst football fans across Europe.
His huge frame, physicality, his eye for the back of the net and his technical prowess distinguish him as one of Spain’s most clinical strikers.
It is a skill set that many have longed to see tested in the Premier League, and I have almost no doubt that the transition would be a successful one.
Llorente is everything that one could desire in a target man. He is a menace in the air and is just as deadly inside the box with his feet.
He may not be in quite the same league as Robin van Persie, but he is still the right calibre of player that Arsenal would need to go after to help soften the blow of the Dutchman's potential departure.
The downside? A non-negotiable £30million transfer fee.
What ever happened to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar?
Just six years ago, Huntelaar was turning the heads of fans, managers and players alike at Ajax. There was almost no faulting the young Dutchman, and he was rewarded with a move to Real Madrid in January 2009.
After quickly falling out of favour with new manager Manuel Pellegrini, Huntelaar found himself at AC Milan, where he fell flat on his face.
For most of us, that was where his story seemed to end.
Now, after two years at Schalke, Huntelaar has well and truly put his name back on the map, and he is ready to restore his reputation as one of Europe’s most clinical forwards.
Huntelaar had a season that was nothing short of remarkable. He scored an incredible 44 goals in just 47 appearances for Schalke on his way to becoming the Bundesliga’s leading scorer.
He may be 28 years of age, but if his performance last season is any indication, Huntelaar is only just hitting his straps. He is almost certainly ready to have another go at conquering one of Europe’s finest leagues.
His inability to impress at Real Madrid and AC Milan do make this signing a bit of a risk, but with a reported £17 million release clause in his contract, it’s a risk well worth taking for Arsene Wenger.
In all honesty, Robin van Persie is irreplaceable.
No signing—no matter how big or how small—would be able to compensate for his loss, and any prospective signing would just be looking to soften the blow of his departure.
Having said that, there is plenty of talent available for Arsenal to target if he were to depart, and we can only hope that any potential replacement can replicate just a portion of the success that Van Persie had last season.