Seemingly always in need of help in the attacking third, Arsene Wenger and Arsenal have reportedly turned their attention to Southampton's Jay Rodriguez as the English international recovers from his horrible knee injury.
Michael Owen knows a thing or two about knee injuries, and he reported the severity of Rodriguez's and offered the talented forward some consolation:
Devastating news that Jay Rodriguez has ruptured his Cruciate knee ligament. I'm sure he will come back stronger.— michael owen (@themichaelowen) April 7, 2014
The Daily Star's Adrian Kajumba reports Arsenal had inquired about Rodriguez and will now monitor his progress as he returns from injury, as the Gunners were apparently keen on signing the Southampton man before rivals Tottenham and Liverpool could.
An injury of such devastating proportions will always make clubs more cautious ahead of completing a big signing, but injury or no injury, Rodriguez wouldn't have been the difference-maker the Gunners have been looking for.
Yes, the 24-year-old attacking midfielder has talent. His 15 league goals, per WhoScored.com, rank fourth in the Premier League and indicate Rodriguez knows how to put the ball in the back of the net. He's also more than just a scorer, boasting a versatile skill set that includes excellent passing and top-level vision.
Rodriguez can play all over the attacking part of the pitch, cutting inside as a winger as effectively as playing around the box. He would present an excellent pickup for any team, the kind of squad player who will endear himself to fans with hard work and a solid impact coming off the bench for a top team.
But Arsenal aren't looking for "solid." Not when it comes to the attacking third. Arsenal have plenty of solid options up front, like Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski.
Then again, the club also fields the mighty Nicklas Bendtner, who I will forever link with this little nugget that just never gets old:
Carl Bovis, one of the club's most respected and most vocal fans on Twitter, identified the Gunners' biggest need going into next season as clearly as he could:
Arsenal need a World class striker! We all know that! We know Giroud's limitations. He's still the best striker we have at the moment!— Carl Bövis (@CarlBovis_AFC) March 25, 2014
Rodriguez isn't a striker, but with his goalscoring record in 2013-14, fans would still be looking at the midfielder to be at least part of the solution. And as good a player as he might be, his ceiling simply falls short of such lofty expectations.
At the age of 24 and playing for a club like Southampton, he should be flat-out dominant in order to be considered a future superstar. And he's not. He's usually not even the best player on the pitch—that honour goes to Adam Lallana or Luke Shaw.
The Independent's Martyn Ziegler reported Southampton director Hans Hofstetter wanted to make it very clear he wasn't planning on selling any players, as he told BBC Radio Solent:
We have a very strong squad and we are still in a situation where we are free enough to act quickly if quick action is asked from us.
...Whilst I perceive that we have inherited a difficult situation financially, there are now clear and structured plans in place to progress the club and avoid a similar situation from occurring again.
Translation: Southampton don't want to sell their three biggest assets in Lallana, Shaw and Rodriguez, and if you want any of them, you're going to have to spend big.
Mind you, this was before Rodriguez ruptured his knee ligament. With the club not looking to sell and the player unable to lace up for the next several months, Rodriguez won't be going anywhere.
Real shame for Jay Rodriguez. Out for 6 months with an ACL injury, therefore misses the World Cup. Wish him well with his recovery.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 7, 2014
And even if he was, he wouldn't present the Gunners with the solution to the problem they've been trying to solve ever since the departure of Thierry Henry. Rodriguez is a solid player, and if his recovery goes well, he could be the kind of player who makes Arsenal better.
But transforming the team's attack to the point that it would be able to compete with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City? That will require a lot more than the 24-year-old from Southampton.