Arsenal Should Go All-in on Pursuing Demba Ba in January Transfer Window
Arsenal did quite well during this past summer's transfer window. Almost everyone was on the verge of burning Arsene Wenger in effigy, of course, but the thunderous arrival of Mesut Ozil completely altered people's perception of the club.
Few would deny, however, that there are still evident cracks in Arsenal's squad—despite the fact that the Gunners are sitting atop the Premier League and have not lost a game since their defeat to Aston Villa over a month ago.
Wenger knew this on transfer deadline day. In fact, he had a very suitable solution to a persistent problem all lined up.
Last season, Arsenal skated by with only one recognized striker. That is wholly unacceptable for a club that purports to want to win every competition in which it is competing.
Unsurprisingly, Olivier Giroud was forced to the sideline at one point, and Wenger was forced to rework his attack around the more physically diminutive Lukas Podolski. It was a decent short-term solution, but Podolski is not very well-suited to playing up front in the Premier League, and it left the squad short in other areas.
The media knew this, of course, and fans were treated to a summer filled almost exclusively with transfer rumors and sagas about strikers.
Gonzalo Higuain initially seemed destined to sign, but the move fell through at the very last minute after Real Madrid suddenly raised their asking price. Arsenal, frustrated, abandoned the deal.
Then there was the Luis Suarez morass, about which barrels of virtual ink have been spilled and no more will be here. The number 40,000,001 will retain meaning in fans' minds for quite some time.
These bids and resulting sagas were no accident of chance. Arsenal needed a striker to complement, compete with and, if necessary, replace Olivier Giroud before the transfer window closed, and they still do.
That's what we have January for!
As frustrating as speculation this far in advance can be, it is worth considering who Arsenal can bring in to improve a side that already has a superb foundation.
The critical difference between this side and those of seasons past is that no one can argue for a wholesale transformation during a single transfer window. One or two players might be able to reinforce the squad on its way to a title, but no more than that are necessary.
Demba Ba would be one such fortifier.
Wenger does not have to go to DEFCON 1 on the striking issue because of Olivier Giroud's form and Nicklas Bendtner's somewhat encouraging return against West Brom.
But Bendtner is obviously not a long-term solution, and Arsenal really should have more depth in this extremely important area of the pitch. Perhaps Chelsea have gone a bit overboard, but they currently have four players vying for one spot up front—not counting Romelu Lukaku, on loan with Everton.
The Blues' surfeit of options is but one reason why Ba would be an ideal solution. Indeed, Arsenal already attempted to sign the Senegalese on loan on deadline day, but were rebuffed by Jose Mourinho. Ba later told the Independent that he was completely ready to switch sides of London.
Ba is very much analogous to Giroud in his physical stature and general style of play, and thus would seamlessly fit into the team if he ever needed to replace the Frenchman.
After Arsenal were rumored to be in the hunt for Ba last January when he was still a Newcastle player, Arsene Wenger likened him to Giroud to Nik Brumsack of Arsenal.com: "I like Giroud personally, he is a similar type to Giroud, who we just bought. It was one or the other one."
Wenger does not have to make that choice now. He could sign Ba on loan for a pittance and receive an excellent goalscorer, one who would mesh perfectly with the current team and provide competition for Giroud without an accompanying demand to take his place.
Ba simply ticks all the boxes that a title contender looks for in a midseason reinforcement, without any additional baggage.
It's not worth getting riled up about in September, but keep his name in mind as the quietus of winter approaches.
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