Karim Benzema is a target for Arsenal. [Picture: Jan S0L0]
After another season of disappointment in the Premier League for Arsenal it is time to reflect and also look forward to what needs to be done next time out. Fans can take away some solace in the fact that the team has started to look a lot stronger of late. Over the past couple of seasons some excellent additions such as Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez have helped turn the team into a world-class unit again. During the second half of the season the Gunners were playing better football than any other team in the league for some time.
Now it is time to look forward to next season and how they can build even further and get the team to the right level to push for a title challenge. The general consensus amongst fans and pundits alike is that there are three key positions to fill to complete the squad. During the summer transfer window, Arsene Wenger will be looking to sign quality players in attack and defensive midfield, and a world-class goalkeeper. For the time being, let’s focus on the attack department.
Looking at the top two teams in the division and the quality they had upfront this season, it’s clear that the Gunners need a more prolific striker than Olivier Giroud. Manchester City have Sergio Aguero, who when in form is the best in the league. His goal tally this season of 26 league goals shows just how dangerous he can be. When Chelsea finished third in the 2013/14 season they realised that they were lacking in this department and employed the services of Diego Costa, who scored 20 league goals which would have certainly been a lot more had he not been injured for so long. There is no doubt that he played a key role in helping Chelsea claim the Premier League title.
It looked as though Sanchez was to become Arsenal’s new main goal threat, and had he been played upfront rather than pushed out wide, who knows how many goals he would have scored. Arsenal fans must face facts. Giroud is not in the same league as Aguero and Costa and although he put away a few goals and had a decent run of form this season, he is not consistent enough to win Premier League titles. The fact that he scored fewer goals than Charlie Austin, whose team was relegated, should say it all.
With the summer transfer window fast approaching, Arsenal fans will be getting excited about what big names may come to the club. Over the last few years, Wenger has shown that he is willing to pay big money for world-class players. Newspapers are already spreading rumours about supposed transfer bids that have been made. Nothing is yet confirmed. Many of the fans have a wish list of who they think will steer the team to victory and many names keep cropping up on the same lists. Here’s a brief look at a few of them.
Rumours surrounding a move to North London for Benzema have been circulating for years and nothing has ever come to fruition. Now, though, it seems that the time may be right for a move for the goal hungry Frenchman. With Carlo Ancelotti’s sacking from Real Madrid, it is more than likely that the new manager will want to put his own stamp on the team. This could mean that Benzema will be the one to go if they want to sign a new big-name striker. At the time this article was produced, bookies such as betfair have him at 3/1 to move to Arsenal if he leaves Madrid.
Benzema has scored 15 goals and assisted in 10 more in 29 La Liga appearances this season. Not only is he a serious goal threat but he is also very good in link-up play and a great team player. He could fit very nicely indeed playing in front of Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey.
Another name that keeps cropping up is Jackson Martinez. According to respected Spanish journalist Kike Martin, he is a top target of Wenger who is ready to activate the striker’s release clause of €24.8 million. The 28-year-old is an out-and-out goalscorer (see below) who has racked up 67 goals in 89 appearances at Porto, but remember what happened last time a prolific Colombian striker came to the Premier League?
Reports are being made that Arsenal may try and make a swoop for another up-and-coming French star. Lacazette has scored 27 goals in 33 Ligue 1 appearances this season and was the League’s top scorer ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He’s the youngest out of the three strikers mentioned here and looks to have a very bright future ahead. On the downside, though, he did fail to score any goals against the top five clubs in Ligue 1 this season. Arsenal desperately need a striker who can help them secure points against the likes of Chelsea and City. The young Lyon-born star is also going to come with a very hefty price tag, that’s for certain.
Finally a look at Sterling, who is the main talking point at many a football pundit’s dinner table. Rumours are circulating that Arsenal may try and get him in some kind of swap deal with Theo Walcott. They would probably also have to pay a lot of money with the unsettled attacking midfielder still having two years left on his contract at Liverpool. Would signing Sterling be the answer to Arsenal’s problems? Definitely not. Walcott on his day is arguably the much better player and if it wasn’t for his injury problems he would be a key man in any Arsenal team. Sterling is a good dribbler but he lacks goal threat, and isn’t anywhere near developed enough for this Gunners team who are looking to go places.
One thing is for sure, in this transfer window, Wenger needs to get a couple of big names. Who they will be is yet to be seen. Watch this space.
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