Why Alvaro Morata Is Not the Striker Arsenal Need in This Transfer Window

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2016

Juventus' forward Alvaro Morata celebrates after he scored during a Serie A soccer match at the Artemio Franchi stadium in Florence, Italy  Sunday , April 24, 2016. (Maurizio Degl'Innocenti/ANSA via AP) ITALY OUT
Maurizio Degl'Innocenti/Associated Press

When Arsene Wenger sits down to draw up his list of summer transfer targets, a striker will surely be top of the bill.

The patchy form of Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott throughout 2015/16 would already have had him wishing for a new frontman, and the long-term injury suffered by Danny Welbeck has only added to the need. However, if Arsenal are to sign a forward this summer, Alvaro Morata is not the man to go for.

According to Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport (h/t the Independent's Jack de Menezes), Morata could move from Juventus to north London via Madrid this summer. De Menezes wrote: 

Real appear favourites to sign Morata by exercising a buy-back clause they have in his contract, with the [UEFA] Champions League finalists able to re-sign the striker in a €30m [£23.6m] deal should they wish to do so. 

[...] Corriere dello Sport claims that Real will bring the 23-year-old back to the Santiago Bernabeu only to then negotiate his sale to Arsenal in a financially lucrative move worth around £51 million. 

It’s a complex move involving several parties, and one Wenger would typically steer clear from. However, it’s clear Morata is a player he admires. Back in December 2013, Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph wrote that the Gunners were pursuing a loan move for the Spanish striker. 

Ultimately, he joined Juve in July 2014. However, after two seasons in Turin, the whispers are that this summer could see him on the move. 

Alessandro Di Marco/Associated Press

He’s undoubtedly a player of pedigree. A product of both the Real and Atletico Madrid academies, he won 34 caps for Spain at youth level, helping his country to win the 2013 European Under-21 Championships.

He has since graduated to senior level and was recently named in the UEFA Euro 2016 squad at the expense of Chelsea’s Diego Costa.

However, Arsenal fans hoping for a prolific predator might be a little disappointed by Morata’s arrival. This season, he made 34 Serie A appearances, scoring just seven goals. That’s not the record of a lethal finisher.

Of course, Morata is still young, but he’ll turn 24 near the start of next season. It would take a dramatic improvement for him to suddenly become the marksman Arsenal need.

He’s a gifted link player and a technically accomplished forward, but the Gunners already have one of those in the bulky shape of Giroud. A fee of £51 million would be an enormous price to pay for someone who doesn’t represent an instant upgrade in potency. 

2016/17 might well be Wenger’s last season at the club, so Arsenal need someone who can make an impact right away. Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain has just enjoyed the best-ever goalscoring season in Serie A, putting Morata’s record to shame with 36 goals in 35 league matches.

Ciro Fusco/Associated Press

The Independent's De Menezes reported stories in Italy have suggested the Argentinian could be trying to lower his release clause to make himself an attractive proposition for English clubs: "According to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, Higuain is considering agreeing a new contract with the club on the terms that his release clause is lowered from its current fee of £74m to a more attractive £46m—£3.5m more than Arsenal paid for Ozil in 2013." 

If Higuain is available at a similar price, Arsenal would be crazy to gamble on Morata. This summer more than ever, Wenger needs to bring in players who can improve the team immediately. Higuain might be 28, but he can still contribute two or three years at the top level, and that might be enough to ensure Wenger is able to leave the club on a high.

 

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and is following the club from a London base throughout 2015/16. Follow him on Twitter here.