Arsenal are monitoring the progress of Valencia centre-forward Paco Alcacer amid another Nicklas Bendtner PR disaster, per John Cross and Neil Rowlands at the Mirror, so here is a scouting report on Paco, a 20-year-old Spanish youth international.
Paco is a sharp-witted No. 9, who makes savvy runs, is decisive inside the penalty box and has been an efficient finisher this season.
He is not letting circumstances he cannot control—such as Valencia manager Juan Antonio Pizzi chopping and changing between Eduardo Vargas and Jonas as the deep-lying forward—negatively influence the job at hand: scoring.
Paco has a determined mindset and has bounced back from adversity.
Two seasons ago, Paco did not even start one La Liga game for Valencia. Last season, he scored three goals from 20 league games, while only starting 30 percent of games on loan at Getafe. Now, he is the main man at Valencia.
So, what type of forward is he?
He is a goal-sneak, a poacher, who "must have been born offside."
Paco possesses the Inzaghi-esque quality of drifting behind opposing defenders while avoiding what all No. 9s dread: the flag being raised.
In Valencia's 2-2 draw with Espanyol, centre-back Diego Colotto appealed for offside, while Paco controlled the ball and volleyed it past goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.
Paco profited on a stagnant Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique to score what turned out to be the winning goal in Valencia's 3-2 win over Barca.
Both Paco's goals in a 5-0 win over Real Betis were straightforward finishes because he once again avoided being flagged offside.
It is the process of getting into an advantageous goalscoring position unmarked which Paco excels at, as shown in Valencia's 2-1 win over Granada, when he escaped the marking of centre-back Jeison Murillo.
Paco has the upside to improve his game since two of his three league goals for Getafe last season were headers and he impeccably scored with his weaker foot (left) in Spain's 2-1 group stage win over France at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Paco is not a threat to consistently run at opposing defenders as he averages 0.2 dribbles per game.
He cannot create his own shot and is heavily reliant on being serviced.
Therefore the credit he receives should be shared with teammates such as the technically gifted right attacking midfielder Sofiane Feghouli, the elegant central midfielder Daniel Parejo and the marauding right-back Antonio Barragan.
Paco isolates himself because he spends most of the game scheming and waiting to pounce on a defensive breakdown from the opposing team.
Consequently, he averages fewer passes per game (12.3) than goalkeeper Diego Alves (18.6).
At Arsenal, meanwhile, centre-forward Olivier Giroud is conscientiously involved in being a passing outlet up front, averaging 19.6 more passes per game (31.9) than Paco.
Valencia to Cash In on Paco?
When you factor in Paco's exponential improvement, going forward he could be a regular 15-20-goals-per-season centre-forward in La Liga.
Based on that subjective view, logic would dictate Valencia management keeping Paco and hoping his transfer stock rises.
Paco has scored the same amount of league goals as Soldado (six) in 10 fewer league games and takes 5.2 fewer shots per goal.
It is another indicator of Valencia auspiciously recycling their goalscorers.
Mista → David Villa → Soldado → Paco → Vinicius Araujo?
Should Valencia cash in on Paco in the upcoming summer transfer window, management already have a successor in 21-year-old Brazilian Vinicius. Per Valencia's official website: "Vinicus has also scored 10 goals with the Brazilian Under-20s national team this season, and won the Toulon International Tournament and Valais Youth Cup competitions in 2013 with his country."
Youngster Vinícius Araújo has moved from Cruzeiro to Valencia. Industrious, bustling forward. Could be a useful signing.— Jack Lang (@snap_kaka_pop) January 31, 2014
Valencia sign Vinícius Araújo from Cruzeiro for €3.5M. Good young striker. Impressive for Brazil youths, too. Let's see how he does there.— A San (@Zizouology) January 31, 2014
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will need to bolster his forward ranks with Bendtner's career with the Gunners all but over.
Nicklas Bendtner accused of threatening taxi driver, dropping his trousers & rubbing himself against the car in Copenhagen last night #afc— Marcus Christenson (@m_christenson) March 13, 2014
"Nobody gave him [Bendtner] any permission to go to Copenhagen and he will be fined for that," Wenger said, per BBC Sport. "He is at the end of his contract at the end of the season."
Paco is an ideal replacement for Bendtner given the Spaniard's career is on the rise and he would serve as plan B to Giroud.
Statistics via WhoScored