Arsenal may have finally acquired a world-class goalkeeper in former Chelsea star Petr Cech but they’re still a few signings short of transforming themselves from outside Premier League title contenders into virtual guarantors of the English crown.
One area the Gunners still require improvement upon is centre-forward. That’s no disrespect to current first choice front-man Olivier Giroud – who deserves enormous credit for manning the line practically single-handed since moving to the Emirates from Montpellier in summer 2012 – but no side since 2009 has claimed the Premier League title without their top scorer bagging in excess of 20 goals.The Frenchman’s biggest league haul to date, on the other hand, stands at just 16.
So with that in mind, here’s a list of FIVE potential ‘Giroud upgrades’ the north London outfit could sign this summer.
Would you prefer to see one of these FIVE spearheading Arsenal’s attack next season? Are these FIVE capable of firing the Gunners to their first Premier League title in over a decade?
Roma are widely believed to be on the verge of signing Manchester City’s forgotten target man Edin Dzeko but reports from earlier this week claim Arsenal have entered the race – which is no surprise considering he’s almost certain to leave the Etihad this summer and has been linked with the Gunners on countless occasions before.
The Bosnian international can be a little temperamental in front of goal but he’s certainly of Premier League title-winning standard, claiming the English crown twice, along with an FA Cup and a League Cup, since joining the Citizens in January 2011 following a prolific 85-goals-in-142-appearances spell with Wolfsburg.
He offers a likeminded kind of service to Giroud; both measuring in at 6 foot 4, both famed for their power, proficiency in the air and ability to bring others into the game by holding up the ball; but is he actually an improvement on the Frenchman?
Well, Giroud’s strike-rate for Arsenal is 0.42 goals per match in the Premier League, whereas Dzeko’s from his three most successful campaigns at the Etihad (excluding his first six months and his nightmarish 2014/15 campaign) is 0.47, despite predominantly featuring from the bench.
With three years remaining on his contract, however, City can still command a significant fee for the 29 year-old, and they’ll be reluctant to sell to a direct title rival.
PSG have continually insisted Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be sold this summer but now 33 years of age and into the final twelve months of his contract, you get the feeling a decent bid around the £12million mark might make them think twice.
Indeed, the enigmatic Swede doesn’t offer Arsenal much longevity and he has an infamous knack of falling out with team-mates, coaches and managers when things aren’t quite going his way.
But that’s juxtaposed by the astronomically sensational record of winning a league title during every season since the 2003/04 campaign, spanning spells with Ajax, Inter Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, AC Milan and the Parisians, whilst producing a career total of 396 goals in 723 appearances – including 30 strikes across all competitions last season.
And make no mistake about it, Zlatan is a one in a million player, combining the technique befitting of a tiki-taka Arsenal side with the 6 foot 5 frame of a battle-hardened, old fashioned centre-forward. That unique combination has seen him claim the 2012 Golden Foot, the 2013 Puskas award and countless nominations for the Ballon d’Or.
Once again, he’d only be a short term signing for Arsenal. But the Premier League is one of the few challenges Ibrahimovic hasn’t conquered; and during a 2015/15 campaign in which the Gunners are targeting the title, his quality and goals could make all the difference.
Famed for his ability to penetrate defences via his nimble frame and lightening pace, once earning him the moniker ‘the African Neymar’, Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a different kind of striker to the others on this list.
In fact, he’s much more of a winger-forward, capable of playing centrally or out wide and very much a roaming presence in the final third.
But nonetheless, a striker of those skills could really clean up in front of Arsenal’s technical, through-ball-proficient midfield, finding little pockets of space to explode into with the likes of Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil supplying pin-point passes.
Furthermore, the Gabon international boasts a considerable supply of goals from the last four campaigns, spanning spells with Dortmund and former club St. Etienne, with a total of 81 in 177 appearances across all competitions.
The 26 year-old has already been linked with an Emirates switch and could be keen to jump ship amid a summer of enormous change at Westfalen, following the departure of Jurgen Klopp. It’s claimed the Gunners are considering a bid of around £30million – but the Black Yellows insist he’s not for sale.
Another striker who isn’t of the big-and-burly centre-forward mould but certainly has the talent to lead the Arsenal scoring charts for many years to come, Arsene Wenger attempted to bring Argentina international Gonzalo Higuain to the Emirates two years ago and the north London outfit have been linked with his services once again.
The Napoli forward is perhaps best famed for his poaching skills, boasting a career return of 215 in 453 appearances throughout his spells with River Plate, Real Madrid, the Naples outfit and Abliceleste, and has always offered a real fox-in-the-box presence in front of goal.
But he’s no stranger to the assists chart either and rest of the 27 year-old’s game, especially in regards to link-up play, often goes unappreciated; he’s claimed eleven set-ups in 46 outings for his country and 15 over the last two campaigns in Serie A.
Higuain’s prior history with Mesut Ozil – both leaving the Bernabeu in the same summer – is yet another added bonus for the Gunners. If they can rekindle that partnership once again, the north Londoners will score for fun.
Despite reports claiming the 6 foot striker wants to leave Napoli this summer after their failure to qualify for the Champions League, the club have publicly insisted he won’t be sold unless his £67million release clause is activated.
Although Higuain is a supremely talented striker – up there with the world’s best – such an astronomical fee will be difficult for Arsenal to justify.
In my opinion, the best option available to Arsenal this summer; Real Madrid star Karim Benzema not only represents the world-class quality they desperately need at the spearhead of their starting Xi but also the style of centre-forward required to be effective in their one-up-front formation.
The France international has bagged 133 goals in 281 appearances for Los Blancos, helping fire them to a La Liga title, two Copa del Reys and a Champions League title since arriving at the Bernabeu from Lyon in summer 2009.
But perhaps more importantly, the 27 year-old seems almost tailor-made for Premier League football and Arsenal’s lone striking role, boasting a tall, robust and aerially combatant 6 foot 2 frame, the technical quality required to participate in the Gunners’ one-touch passing moves and the ability to finish consistently with both feet.
Benzema hasn’t enjoyed the starring role many expected of him upon initially signing for Real Madrid, but that’s exactly why he could turn out to be such a fantastic signing for Arsenal; after six years in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow, the Frenchman’s still got a point to prove if he’s to be remembered as one of the top strikers of his generation.
Rumour has it Real Madrid might decide to cash-in on the former Lyon prodigy this summer, with Rafa Benitez hoping to utilise Cristiano Ronaldo as a centre-forward next season. But recent reports claim Arsenal have already seen a £31million bid rejected.