Arsenal have so far remained quiet on the transfer front this summer, but fans must hope the lack of consistent rumours will lead to a big splash for a world-class forward in a few weeks' time.
Olivier Giroud recently told InfoSport+ (h/t Sky Sports) he fully expects his club to sign a striker to compete with him for the starting position:
"I can tell you Arsenal will add a striker to the team.
"We need another striker. Great clubs have several good strikers, who compete with each other."
With the departure of Nicklas Bendtner (whose main contribution to the world of football in an Arsenal shirt was the outstanding miss shown below), the Gunners are short on bodies to use up front. Yaya Sanogo has a lot of raw potential, but the youngster is nowhere near ready to be an impact player.
It seems almost a foregone conclusion the Gunners will bring in competition for Giroud, who is currently in Brazil preparing for the 2014 World Cup with the French national team.
But Arsenal don't need to sign competition for Giroud—they need to bring in his replacement, the kind of attacking force the team hasn't fielded since the departure of Robin van Persie.
The Gunners had a solid campaign in 2013-14, spending much of the season at the top of the Premier League standings before imploding toward the end. The team rebounded nicely, however, securing Champions League football and winning the FA Cup.
Two problems dogged Arsenal last season—a lack of depth behind their starting XI and the absence of a clinical forward capable of winning the team matches with a flash of brilliance.
Arsenal are relatively young and wildly talented, and several key pieces like Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey look like they will be Premier League stars for years to come. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also still has a bright future ahead of him, and Theo Walcott was enjoying a solid season before his injury.
But in Arsene Wenger's preferred 4-2-3-1, too much pressure is often placed on the shoulders of these midfielders and wide players. They're the first line of defence, the creative heart of the team, and very often, they're the ones being relied on to score as well.
Giroud is a fine striker and a very useful option to have in your squad. Per WhoScored.com, he scored 18 goals in 43 appearances, and while those aren't bad numbers, they're indicative of a good, but not great, player.
Should Arsenal invest in a replacement for Giroud?
The Gunners need someone to spearhead their 4-2-3-1, someone whose mere presence will open up lanes for the likes of Ramsey and Ozil advancing from midfield. Unlike previous years, they shouldn't be afraid to spend in order to find that piece.
Every great team needs that one player with the magic touch, that forward who can break a close match wide open with a moment of brilliance, or an act of brute force. City have that in Aguero. Liverpool have their man in Suarez. Chelsea don't have that, which is why they're throwing loads of money at an injured Diego Costa, per Sky Sports.
Arsenal don't have it either, and unless they wish to prolong their Premier League title drought, they need to close that gap.
One option could be Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic, who told Sportske Novosti (h/t Marca) he will not be playing for the Bavarian giants next season.
As shared by Squawka Dave, his numbers in the Bundesliga on a stacked Bayern team were not too shabby:
Discounting penalties, Mandzukic scored 18 goals in the league this season. No Bundesliga player managed more.— Squawka Dave (@SquawkaDave) June 10, 2014
OptaFranz joined in on the fun, sharing how much of an aerial threat the Croatian can be:
24 - Since joining the Bundesliga in 2010, Mario Mandzukic has scored 24 headed goals (no other player more than 17). Wanted. @FCBayern— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) June 10, 2014
Lastly, Jan Aage Fjortoft agrees this could be Arsenal's best chance of adding a top-quality striker:
ATTENTION!!! Mandzukic in Croatian-paper „Sportske Novost": - I want to leave Bayern. Arsenal! This is your chance to get a Class Striker— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) June 9, 2014
Someone like Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata could also be an option, but the youngster is still largely unproven, and he would represent more of a classical Wenger approach—get a youngster and develop.
It might work, but the effects won't be immediate. In contrast, the presence of a quality forward like Mandzukic would be immediately felt, and it would make the Gunners that much better.