Olivier Giroud has ploughed a lonely furrow as Arsenal’s main centre-forward this campaign.
Which of the following forwards would be the best fit for Arsenal?
With neither of the Frenchman’s understudies—Nicklas Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo—quite up to the standard required, it’s been down to the Frenchman to spearhead the Gunners’ attack for long spells this season.
The reason why? Arsene Wenger decided not to delve into the transfer market for a striker either in January or last summer. And whilst a late-season blip cannot be solely attributed to a dearth of striking options, they have certainly lacked a clinical edge in the forward positions.
Anyway, it’ll come as good news for Arsenal fans, and perhaps even for Giroud himself, that the Gunners are already being linked with a host of forward options with the summer transfer window looming.
Here’s the latest on the players being linked with a move to the Emirates and whether they’d be a suitable fit for this Arsenal team.
After another season on the fringes of the first team, recent reports have emerged suggesting that Mancunian-born Danny Welbeck is considering his future at Manchester United, per Jamie Jackson of The Guardian.
Further reports have claimed that Arsenal are keen on snapping up the out-of-favour striker, joining Tottenham in the race for his signature, per Dave Kidd of the Mirror.
It’d be fair to say some Gunners aren’t too pleased by the prospect of Welbeck leading their line next season:
If we end up signing Welbeck as our new striker I will eat my Arsenal shirt in anger. You can hold me to that.— Isaac Gallows (@IsaacGallows) April 28, 2014
The 23-year-old England international has shown glimpses of quality in his time at Old Trafford, but with Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez all battling it out for the striker’s spots, he’s not been able to nail down a place in the United first XI.
Welbeck has often found himself used as a wide forward more often than a central striker, but it’s a position he has grown frustrated with, according to Jackon’s piece.
If Welbeck was to swap Old Trafford for the Emirates, he’d join a crop of burgeoning British talent at Arsenal. Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs have show plenty of improvement this season under the tutelage of Wenger, whilst Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere have all established themselves as England regulars under the Frenchman.
Welbeck will be hoping Wenger can do the same for him should he make the switch to the capital. He surely realises that at this stage of his career, playing time is crucial. He only has to look at what regular football has done for Daniel Sturridge at Liverpool, a player who is just one year Welbeck’s senior.
A reported £20 million fee could prove to be a stumbling block. In truth, Spurs look more likely to sanction that kind of outlay than the Gunners. But given his application and raw ability, Welbeck could definitely flourish at the Emirates, becoming a key part of Arsenal’s burgeoning British nexus.
Liverpool have reportedly registered their interest in Arsenal target Alexandre Lacazette, with the Lyon forward claiming the prospect of a new challenge abroad is something that “fascinates” him.
The player also spoke about the prospect of moving abroad, specifically mentioning Liverpool and Arsenal, per The Sun (h/t Sky Sports):
"I'm tempted to try and experience life abroad. Are Arsenal and Liverpool interested? An experience in another major league fascinates me."
Having netted 17 goals in all competitions this season, per WhoScored.com, it’s easy to see why Wenger would be interested in bringing a player like Lacazette to North London.
He is a very skilful striker who can play anywhere across the front line, capable of stretching the defence with runs in behind or dropping off into space and taking the ball into feet.
The 22-year-old would bring some much needed dynamism to this Arsenal team, too, something that the Gunners are in short supply of when Theo Walcott is out of the side.
Given Wenger’s stature within the French game, if Arsenal do have a real interest, then you suspect Lacazette could be convinced to choose the Gunners over the other aforementioned clubs. Especially as Lyon look as though they may have to sell in the summer, with a lack of top-level European football and ongoing financial woes restricting their ability to hang on to top talent.
Ben Jefferson of Express reports that Balotelli clashed with Italian press after Milan’s defeat to Roma on Friday night and that this latest outburst could be the final straw for him at the Rossoneri.
The player took to Twitter after the loss against Roma, stating, “Mamma mia, I divide Italy in two! Amazing! While almost everyone overseas is united with me! What a strange game”:
Mamma mia divido l Italia in 2! Però! Mentre quasi tutto l Estero è unito con me! What a strange game:-)— Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) April 26, 2014
Whilst Balotelli is clearly not at ease at Milan, you have to wonder as to whether a manager of Wenger’s experience would take a chance on a player so volatile and unshakably erratic.
Nonetheless, Bleacher Report’s Italian football writer Jack Rathborn thinks Mario would be a big upgrade on what the Gunners currently have:
Think Balotelli would be a big upgrade for Chelsea and Arsenal, if City play two up top, he's better than all but Aguero— Jack Rathborn (@jackrathborn) April 25, 2014
Granted, the Italian forward can be an exceptional player at his best, but so often, his temperament let him down in England, and he seems to have done little maturing in his time at Milan. There’s a phenomenal player in there somewhere, but at this point in his managerial career, Arsene Wenger is not the right man to hone and channel Balotelli’s unhinged talent.