It has been a strange time at Arsenal since Mikael Arteta took charge of the club. In his first season in charge, he changed the playing style, helped the club improve defensively, and lead the club to an FA Cup win. At the centre of that win was the once prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. That season saw the Gabonese hitman find the net 29 times in 44 games, so it is entirely understandable that the big Arsenal transfer story of the following summer consisted of fan pressure to give the striker a new deal at the club. Unfortunately for Arsenal, that deal was arguably the biggest mistake since the club made a similar error with Mesut Özil . Offering a player massive wages and a long-term contract when they are in they are entering their thirties is a gamble and in both cases, it didn’t pay off. Aubameyang went off the boil in the 2020-2021 season as his goal return plummeted to 15 goals in 39 games. Things went from bad to worse in this current season as the player is now out in the cold and no longer looks to be part of Mikael Arteta’s plans.
A combination of disciplinary issues and poor performances has seen Arsenal look to the transfer market to replace Aubameyang. In normal circumstances, a club like Arsenal could look to their other striking options. Unfortunately for Arsenal they no longer have the abundance of attacking talent that they once had. Alexandre Lacazette is the club’s second-best striker, however, the Frenchman is not a prolific goalscorer and is out of contract at the end of the season. Eddie Nketiah has shown glimpses of goalscoring ability at the premier league level but has never managed to hold down a first-team spot. Like Lacazette he is also out of contract at the end of the season.
These circumstances have left Arsenal looking in the January window for a frontman to lead the line of Arteta’s side. The clubs number one target Dušan Vlahović has just completed a move to Italian giants Juventus and Arsenal will likely be moving on to their second and third choice targets. So who should those targets be and what can they bring to Arsenals squad?
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Alexander Isak is a Swedish frontman currently lining up for the Spanish side Real Sociedad. The Swede has impressive physical attributes standing 6 foot 4 inches tall and is also only 22 years old. This would fit into Mikael Arteta’s buying profile as the Spaniard has frequently targeted players in their early 20s. Isak boasts 41 goals in 115 games for the La Liga club and is well known for using his size and athleticism to hold up the ball allowing his team to get more players forward. Isak doesn’t provide many assists for his teammates with only 9 assists in his entire time at Sociedad, however, Isak does actively look to get involved in build-up play and Arteta may be able to help the striker improve in this aspect. Alexander Isak was being linked with a move to Arsenal this window before the club turned their attention to Vlahović. With that move now dead it is likely we will see Isak linked to Arsenal before the transfer window slams shut.
Many will have only heard about Darwin Núñez through the part he played in Benfica’s 3-0 destruction of Barcelona earlier this season but the Uruguayan striker is far from a one-hit-wonder. The striker was an expensive transfer for Benfica when they bought him from the Spanish side UD Almeria for a reported €24.00m. Any apprehension Benfica may have had in making the deal has since been put to rest as the attacker has contributed 20 goals and 2 assists for the Portuguese side this season. Like Aleksander Isak, his assist numbers do seem on the low side but it is not through lack of trying. Núñez is known for his ability to get back and link up with his teammates. At 21 years old the striker has plenty of room to develop and with some guidance he can become a regular goal scorer for any top European side.
If there is a wildcard on this list then it is the former Inter Milan prospect “Gabigol”. The striker is now 25 years old and on the books, at the Brazilian side, Flamengo, where he has found the net 84 times in just 123 games. He has also provided 33 assists in that time. Arsenal technical director Edu has looked to his home country before for talent and you can be sure he is aware of Barbosa’s resurgence. Gabigol possesses deadly pace and is a fantastic finisher. In many ways, you can model Barbosa as the most direct replacement for Aubameyang on this list. Arsenal could do a lot worse than taking Gabriel Barbosa back for a second chance in Europe.
What a season Patrick Schick is having for Bayer Leverkusen. The Czech marksman has scored 18 goals in just 21 games this season while also providing 7 assists. With that kind of all-around frontman performance, it is no surprise that he is being linked with some of Europe’s bigger sides. Schick is excellent in the air while also known for having great technique. A truly all-around striker. The only thing missing from Schick’s game was goals. Before the 2021/2022 season, he had never found the net more than 13 times in a calendar year which puts him out in the cold when big clubs start looking for their next frontman. Previously the striker was always the second choice, at Roma behind Edin Džeko and in a rotational striking system with RB Leipzig. It didn’t seem like any side was going to give Schick the responsibility to be the main man. Bayer Leverkusen is the first side to put their eggs in the Schick basket and they are reaping the rewards of that. The time to strike with Patrick Schick is now for Arsenal, if left too late then it is likely that the attacker will be worth a fortune when the summer rolls around.
Simply an outstanding talent. That’s all we can say about the RB Salzburg frontman. Arguably the pick of the players on this list Karim Adeyemi is the next big Red Bull prospect to come out of the Austrian league. Don’t let the domestic quality of that aforementioned league fool you. Adeyemi like Haaland before him is the real deal. Despite not playing in one of Europe’s top leagues the striker has been impressive enough at 20 years old to have played and scored for the German National Team. It is clear to see that the striker is destined for big things and the Bundesliga is already calling. The frontman has reportedly been in contact with Borussia Dortmund over a move in the summer. If Arsenal wants to make a move then they should do it now.
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