Arsenal’s strong links to Loic Remy this past weekend could, and probably are, an indicator of one thing: the club are fighting a losing battle to secure a big-name striker this summer.
It’s one or the other for Arsenal this summer. Either sign a world-class striker who can carry the team to silverware next season and beyond, or load the decks with players who can share the burden.
And that’s the way it’s looking, provided the Remy deal comes off. There isn’t any great problem with the French striker, who’s been involved in his national side’s two most recent friendlies ahead of the World Cup. He’s a good player who knows the Premier League. He’s the quick forward the club need, and based on what’s being reported, it’s a hugely tempting bargain to land an experienced full-international what for QPR are asking, said to be around the £8 million-mark.
But good doesn’t win you league titles. Olivier Giroud is good for what he is, but he isn’t the difference-maker in high-profile games, as has been greatly discussed throughout this past season. Remy is similar, a good striker but with little track record of guiding a team to silverware.
So let’s assume that Remy is to be one of Arsene Wenger’s first signings of the season. Karim Benzema looks increasingly likely to stay on at Real Madrid, with the striker admitting to a happiness and comfort in the Spanish capital. Mario Mandzukic is another name, but talk has gone cold on that one. It may crop up again, but in the event the Croatian has a good tournament in Brazil, he’ll more than likely gather a larger number of suitors later in the summer.
Beyond those two there hasn’t been sustained links to good forwards, rather reports of fleeting interest.
Loading the decks is the only other viable option for Arsenal. Few fans will accept Remy as the only forward addition. He isn’t really better than Giroud, simply different in his style of play. But bringing in another natural striker will help to restore some faith in the manager from those who want something extravagant.
Alvaro Morata’s Real Madrid future is unclear. There have been reports of him going to Italy, as well as rumours about a move to Arsenal. What is clear is that he isn’t good enough to be Arsenal’s first-choice centre-forward next season, but in a group consisting of Giroud and Remy, he’d be able to offer a lot.
Morata’s potential contribution is only really based on one season in the Real first team and the U21 European Championship last summer with Spain. He’s 21. Unlike recent transfer targets like Julian Draxler, Morata hasn’t been playing top-flight football from his late teens. He’s still very raw and time will need to be afforded to him before we see the finished product.
But there is also a lot of upside to the young Spaniard. He was in and out of the Real team this season, initially acting as backup to Benzema but then losing that position to Jese Rodriguez. An injury to Jese allowed Morata to see more minutes towards the end of the season, and while there were disappointing periods, a lot of what he produced was positive. Think what he could have done with regular football under his belt.
What Morata is at this time is a very good ‘reliever.’ He can start in place of first-choice forwards or contribute off the bench. Like Remy he’s quick, and like Giroud he is big enough to hold up the play. Despite Benfica’s Rodrigo being the preferred option in Spain’s U21 team, Morata is comfortably the better of the two.
He’s a good finisher and has displayed intelligence in the opposition penalty area. He’s not a superstar at this time – and some have been led to believe after this season he won’t be a superstar forward, at least not for Real Madrid – but he’s a good, young player who is certainly good enough for a club of Arsenal’s size.
Real Madrid are said to have wanted a buy-back option in the event of a sale to Arsenal, but unless Morata’s career pans out to be something in the shape of Gareth Bale’s or someone of that ilk, Real’s gaze is unlikely to be drawn.
He’s not the player many fans will have at the top of their transfer wish lists. There’s little glamour in this signing; for all the talk of Morata over the past 12 months, he doesn’t hold the same reputation as youngsters like Mario Goetze and Julian Draxler. But what is certain is that Arsenal need options and depth, and if Morata is available and the ‘Loic Remy route’ is to be taken, 21-year-old would make a lot of sense to help lead Arsenal to further trophies next season.