When dealing with trauma, football fans can be a lot like children. They make a huge deal out of it for a day or so and then quickly move on. Such is the nature of football; such is the case with Robin van Persie. It’s almost as though Arsenal fans have simply been put out of their misery; most of them presumed their captain would be leaving. At least this summer such dealings can be concluded before the season begins. As traumatic as it was, and for all the fans’ ‘surprise’ and ‘shock’, Arsenal can now focus on rebuilding their squad.
To allow their 37-goal captain to leave without finding a replacement could be fatal. Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski’s combined league-goal total for last season may amount to 37, but you would imagine that, considering his statements, Arsene Wenger was hopeful that he would be in possession of all three strikes for the coming campaign. Therefore it appears probable that the Frenchman is in the market for a new player. So, what are his options?
The 27 year old was an unused substitute for Spain’s successful European Championships triumph but that should not diminish his reputation. Athletic Bilbao’s top goal scorer had an exceptional season for his club. Llorente scored thirty goals in total, including seven in Europe as he helped his side to the Europa League final. Physically, he is perfectly built for the Premier League and, against Man Utd, he has already proven that he has what it takes to score against top English opposition. Another benefit of Llorente is that Bilbao play a similar brand of attacking football to Arsenal, so he should have little trouble adapting to the squad. Whilst he is approaching the peak of his career the one point against his name is that he offers a similar threat to that of Olivier Giroud and Arsenal may want an alternative option.
Atletico Madrid would be unwilling to sell their star striker but considering the long-standing financial problems at the club it is feasible that the Colombian could be prised away. An added bonus for Arsenal could be that Atletico missed out on the Champions League so the prospect of playing in the competition could tempt the 26 year old to move to England. Last season, on his way to lifting the Europa League, Falcao broke the record for the most goals scored in an annual European campaign as he notched up 17 goals including 2 in the final. Falcao scored, overall, 37 goals last season so he could be realistically expected to replace that element of van Persie’s game. Falcao may be under six foot but is comfortable using either feet and is strong in the air. He is an ideal replacement for the Dutchman, if he can be bought.
Watched by Arsenal’s scouts on a number of occasions last season, the 22 year old Internacional striker has risen to the heights of the Brazilian national side relatively quickly. Unlike both Falcao and Llorente, Damiao would undoubtedly find it harder to adjust considering the differences between European and South American football, yet that is not to say he could not, or would not, be a success in England. At his current rate of progression he could tempt Arsenal as an investment as well as a signing for the current team. Damiao scored 35 goals in 50 appearances last season and in the current campaign he already has 12 goals in 18 games.
Another player that Arsenal have scouted in the past, the pacey French striker was, perhaps generously, likened to Thierry Henry when he was younger and although that turned out to be an optimistic assessment he is undoubtedly a quality footballer. At 25 Remy is at a decent age, could be attracted by the French manager and would be considerably cheaper than the other options. His scoring record for last season was 15 goals from 39 games so to expect him to adopt the mantle of Arsenal’s chief goal scorer would be unlikely. However, Marseille were poor last season, they finished 10th, so to score 15 goals in a team like that is not as bad as it sounds. The major benefit that Remy offers is versatility. His pace and build up play mean that, like Podolski, he could be deployed through the middle or out wide in a 4-3-3. Being as they are bereft of European football, Marseille may be willing to sell and Remy may be willing to move.
Tempting the Polish striker away from the German champions might be a tall order, but everyone has their price. The 23 year old scored 33 goals in 51 games for club and country last season, an impressive record for such a young player. Like Llorente, Lewandowski is used to playing in a team whose style of play bares many similarities with that of Arsenal. As such, the transition from one club to another could be relatively smooth. This is an important factor for Arsenal as, without van Persie, they will need at least one of their strikers to hit the ground running in August. Despite being young, the advantage of Lewandowski is that he has already won two German league titles and therefore comes with a winning mentality and the necessary experience. Whilst not as cheap as Remy, the Poland international would undoubtedly be a cheaper option in comparison to Falcao or Llorente.
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