It’s for very good reason that Arsenal supporters demand excellence in the transfer market. The stance from the club to push ticket prices to the maximum, while housing a football team in one of the country’s most modern and impressive stadiums, drives the need for something inspired with regards to player recruitment.
Fans do not always want to hear about the latest wonderkid who may or may not turn out to be the new saviour or poster boy for the club. Arsenal have a fine tradition of attacking football under Arsene Wenger, thus forcing the demand for quality over bargain bin signings.
But every now and then, it always raises a sense of hope and a different level of excitement when a club pulls an ace out of their sleeve, a diamond in the rough and one who was a bargain signing in the most positive sense of the word.
Iago Aspas isn’t a name that would normally send the excitement levels rising among Arsenal’s supporters. The fans want something in the vein of Santi Cazorla, a player of exceptional quality with the reputation to back it up. For simply the lack of reputation, Iago Aspas certainly doesn’t strike the same chord.
That is unless you’re oblivious to La Liga beyond the stars of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Diego Simeone’s diamond of a striker at the Vicente Calderon. But Iago Aspas, currently of Celta Vigo and who last season played in the Segunda division, falls comfortably into that bracket of players who are exciting Spanish football and winning a host of admirers. There’s no glamour in looking to teams like Betis, Celta and Rayo, but this season is showing the incredible depth of quality right through La Liga.
Iago Aspas currently operates in the striker role for Celta, but is more than well equipped to handle the duties of a wide player. He’s a forward with incredible pace but also clinical enough to be his team’s focal point in attack.
When Celta went to the Camp Nou three weeks ago, it would have been easy to mark that one off as an easy victory for the Catalans. But Aspas put forward another excellent showcase of his talents, stretching the Barcelona back four and threatening Victor Valdes’ goal on a number of occasions.
Aspas has comfortably been Celta’s standout performer this season, just as he was last season when they won promotion. He’s also a player who is playing well above his current level, and a move to a bigger club even in Spain shouldn’t be out of the question.
It was Guillem Balague, however, who brought up the idea of Arsenal looking at the Celta forward, alongside Fernando Llorente and Adrian Lopez. Off the bat, it’s easy to see why Wenger may look to Aspas as an option for strengthening his attack at the Emirates. The Spaniard is incredibly quick, but plays with the technical excellence you’d normally associate with Wenger’s recruits. He has a fearless attitude about his play, something that should be looked at from that performance against Barcelona. There’s no hiding away for him from the bigger and much more powerful opponents; this is very much a player who knows how good he is and how much damage he can do.
At 5’9 it would be a little foolish to completely write-off his potential contributions to Arsenal and in the Premier League. Luis Suarez is doing an excellent job in leading Liverpool in attack, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez are the regular starters at Manchester City over their bigger team-mates, and Arsenal’s leading players this season have been Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta – all under 6 foot.
There should be no reservations about Arsenal targeting a player of Iago Aspas’ quality. The club will never willingly splash out on players who command fees of £20 million and up, but it is imperative the club identify the best players who do fall into their price range.
Aspas is still building towards his prime, being only 25, but everything he’s displayed so far this season ticks the boxes of a typical Arsene Wenger signing, even more so than Llorente and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. As mentioned, he’s quick and very mobile, but his versatility will also be a big help to the club with his ability to play on the flanks when Olivier Giroud takes up the target man role.
But above all, the fee to land the Spaniard should be minimal. He’s already expressed a desire to stay with Celta, having recently signed a contract extension and having come through the Galician team’s youth set up. But should an approach from Arsenal be put forth, the player would almost certainly jump at the chance to elevate his status in European football.
What Wenger could have here is another project, another opportunity to turn a very good player into an exceptional one. He has a poacher’s instinct, and only needs the right environment and coaching to transfer his 23 goals of last season in the Segunda division into 20-plus in the top-flight (he already has five goals in 12 appearances for what you’d obviously call a poor Celta side ).
He is by no means the glamour signing that Arsenal need to give them a lift and a new lease of inspiration, but he’s very much a player of quality who will improve the level of depth in the squad at the Emirates.