Arsenal have reportedly emerged as a surprised destination for Liverpool's Christian Benteke with the striker set to call time on his short Anfield career this summer.
The Gunners are in need of further firepower up front when they dip into the transfer market this summer.
Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck are all decent options, but none are prolific or ruthless enough to step up when Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil aren't on form—or reliably finish the chances they create when they are.
Would Benteke be better for Arsenal than Giroud?
However, Benteke is not the forward Arsenal need. The Belgian has had a largely torrid time at Liverpool with just seven goals and five assists to his name in 32 appearances.
Further, the struggles he's had fitting in at Anfield—due to his lack of movement and inability to link up well with his team-mates—would only be exacerbated at the Emirates Stadium where quick passing, intricate build up and dynamism are the order of the day.
Football writer Jack Lusby has been unimpressed with Benteke this season:
Christian Benteke is such an infuriating "target man". Doesn't attack the ball. Doesn't bother moving. So little respect for his team-mates.— Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_) January 26, 2016
What annoys me most about Benteke in these situations is standing there with his arms out like he's a 5-a-side CF. pic.twitter.com/Wldld6zaTx— Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_) January 21, 2016
Though he can be a prolific goalscorer—he had 49 goals in 101 appearances for Aston Villa—his confidence is rock bottom. What he needs is to move into a less pressured environment, which Arsenal would not provide.
Also, the Gunners already have Giroud to add height and a physical option up front, so don't expect Arsenal to pursue Benteke.
A more realistic option is Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne, and he's been a long-term target for the Gunners, according to Calciomercato.com. However, per Sky Italia (h/t Calciomercato), the Partenopei have held talks with his representatives with a view to agreeing a new deal.
The 24-year-old has scored 12 goals and assisted 11 this season and has a flair for the spectacular, per BT Sport Football:
BeIN Sports' Matteo Bonetti hailed the winger's creativity and sublime passing, and earlier in the season described him as "world class:"
Lorenzo Insigne is the best creator in Serie A right now. His passing this season has been otherwordly, seriously.— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) February 3, 2016
Lorenzo Insigne looks like Italy's only true world class player so far this season. Cross your fingers he can stay healthy. Sensational— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) October 6, 2015
More incisive than the likes of Walcott, Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, he would make an excellent signing for Arsenal. If Napoli aren't able to tie him down to a new contract the Gunners should make a point of pursuing him, though they may find themselves facing plenty of competition.
The 21-year-old is a central or holding midfielder by trade but is versatile and can play out wide also. La Liga writers Andrew Gaffney and Dermot Corrigan hailed him during Atletico's 3-0 victory over Real Sociedad on Tuesday:
Elsewhere Atletico Madrid have scored two, yes two goals, in one match. Unprecedented. Saul is so much more than a defensive midfielder.— Andrew Gaffney (@GaffneyVLC) March 1, 2016
7 goals all comps for Saul this season - clear Atletico 2nd top scorer behind Griezmann, after only really getting starts when Tiago injured— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) March 1, 2016
In 21 league outings this term, Saul has made 43 tackles, won 46 headed duels and made 42 interceptions, according to Squawka.
Arsenal could use some fresh blood in midfield to add steel and youthful energy to their spine—something the likes of Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are unable to provide—and Saul would be an outstanding buy.
Per Whaling, he has a £34.7 million buyout clause. As steep a price as that is for a player of his age, the Spaniard possesses incredible ability and potential, so he could prove a real coup.