Arsenal Transfer News: Ezequiel Lavezzi Emerges as Arsene Wenger's Top Target

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 07:  Ezequiel Lavezzi of PSG looks on in a training session at Stamford Bridge on April 7, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Ezequiel Lavezzi has emerged as one of Arsenal's top transfer targets during what should be a busy summer for Arsene Wenger's club.

Lavezzi, whose name continues to be linked with a move away from Paris Saint-Germain, could be the player to add much-needed strength in depth to the North London side's beleagured attacking options, as reported by The Sun and via Metro:

The Gunners are already said to be chasing a move for controversial AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli and are now thought to also be in the market for Lavezzi according to The Sun, as Wenger looks to offer support to Olivier Giroud.

Jonathan Johnson of ESPN FC sheds more light on the rumour:

Although proven to be a quality player at all levels of the game, Lavezzi doesn't appear to be the best fit for an Arsenal side who need to sign an out-and-out striker.

The Argentinian is primarily a left-sided forward, although he can play across the attacking line. Wenger has already struggled to keep Lukas Podolski happy—a player whose positioning is similar to Lavezzi's—meaning he may add to rotation problems with another star of similar ilk.

Martin Lipton of the Mirror believes Lavezzi could cost "around £25 million," a hefty fee considering the player still wouldn't address Wenger's main needs. Considering Lavezzi is 29 years old, Wenger would also need to consider whether such a deal offers value for money. The forward's play is based on pace, power and incision, attributes that could begin to falter as he heads toward the latter stages of his career.

Arsenal would still need to sign a world-class alternative to Olivier Giroud up top, even if Lavezzi makes the move. Speculation has intensified around Mario Balotelli after the AC Milan striker's agent failed to rule out an Emirates switch.

As reported by Amy Lewis of Sky Sports, Mino Raiola indicates his client is open to leaving the San Siro:

Arsenal is a fantastic club in London. Only 10 clubs in the world maximum could afford Mario - like all premium players and he is one of the greatest. I won't make any further comment until after the transfer window closes.

Wenger made just the one major signing last summer—welcoming Mesut Ozil to the club—and Balotelli is a better fit if just a single world-class star is to be landed this year.

He is a more natural goalscorer than Lavezzi, offers greater physicality when holding the ball up and plays through the centre on a regular basis. Balotelli has the attributes to knock Giroud out of the team, while Lavezzi would only offer an alternative to what the Gunners already have.

With wide players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Serge Gnabry continuing to develop alongside more established stars including Podolski and Theo Walcott, there's a sense that competition for Arsenal's wide spots would begin to become overcrowded.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at Boleyn Ground on December 26, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Of course, Lavezzi's quality is potent enough that most would welcome his arrival. Wenger can land top players, we saw that with Ozil, but he needs to make sure his squad's needs are addressed first and foremost. After scoring nine goals in 32 Ligue 1 appearances last season, per, Lavezzi doesn't do that.

Although the club's desire to land Lavezzi still needs to be proven—this is still very much in the rumours stage—it appears the Argentinian forward would be a short-term luxury signing for a club that needs long-term essential purchases.