It has been a strange old season for Arsenal. The club started horribly this season with three-straight defeats followed by star man and club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being exiled from the first-team squad. At that point, there were serious questions being asked of manager Mikel Arteta–questions that the Spaniard answered when Arsenal’s form recovered dramatically following his spat with Aubameyang. By January Arsenal was well and truly back in the race for Champions League football and Aubameyang was off to Barcelona.
Aubameyang Departure Highlights Need for Striker
Despite Arsenal’s mid-season resurgence, it was evident that the club seriously lacked a frontman. Alexandre Lacazette linked plays well but simply doesn’t score enough goals. Meanwhile, Eddie Nketiah hasn’t looked like a striker who can consistently play at a top-four level. Between them, they have scored six Premier League goals this season. Not nearly enough for a club hoping to be at the top of the table. Even if an argument could be found for either player to regularly lead the Arsenal line it would be redundant as both are out of contract at the end of the season and seem unlikely to resign.
Arsenal Look Abroad to Solve Striker Issues
Arsenal was obviously aware of this as they targeted both Alexander Isak and Dušan Vlahović during the January window. They failed in both pursuits and as a result, struggled a lot more than was necessary for the second half of the season. In fact, if the Gunners don’t qualify for Champions League football this season it will likely be down to this January failure.
Gabriel Jesus Emerges a Number 9 Option
While this saga was unfolding at Arsenal, reports started to come out that Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus was the new number one target for Arsenal in the coming summer. The Brazilian has had an unusual career in Manchester having been brought in to replace Sergio Agüero. Unfortunately for Jesus, Agüero never seemed to lose any form despite his injury record leading him to spend the first four years of his Premier League career as Aguero’s understudy. Following Agüero’s departure to Barcelona at the start of this season, a strange narrative began to unfurl–Manchester City didn’t have a striker.
Gabriel Jesus might not be a typical number 9 like Harry Kane, but to proclaim that City didn’t have a striker was just simply incorrect. Not only do they have a striker they have one that is versatile enough to play on the wing, is rarely injured and who also regularly creates goals for the players around him.
Gabriel Jesus is a gem of an attacker as evidenced by his career statistics. At only 25 years of age, the Brazilian has scored 116 goals and assisted 52 times in 284 games. The vast majority of these have come at the very highest level and often off the bench. These are excellent statistics for a player who has been the second choice at one of Europe’s top clubs. It stands to reason that regular football in his preferred position will lead to even better results.
Unfortunately for Gabriel Jesus this simply isn’t going to happen at Manchester City. Manager Pep Guardiola has designed a mesmerising style of play that doesn’t utilise a true number 9. And if that wasn’t bad enough for Jesus, the club are likely to sign Erling Haaland in the summer. Unless Jesus is content to be the second choice for the remainder of his career, the time to leave is now. That is where Arsenal come in.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) May 3, 2022
Where to Go From Here for The Gunners
The Gunners need an upgrade in the forward area. Ideally, that player will be able to contribute more goals than their current options, but, also link up and assist his teammates. Jesus is perfect for this role as demonstrated by his goals and assists numbers compared to Arsenal’s current options. In 34 appearances this season Jesus has contributed 13 goals and 12 assists whereas combined this season Lacazette and Nketiah have contributed 13 goals and 9 assists. It is clear that Jesus is at least the superior attacker and this is emphasised by the fact he has done this in a system that doesn’t usually allow him to play as an out and out striker.
If the Brazilian international does end up at the Emirates Stadium then you can be sure that he fits the system Arsenal want to play as manager Mikel Arteta worked with Jesus for years during his own time in Manchester and wouldn’t bring Jesus to the club unless he was confident in his abilities. With a reported asking price of around £40 million, this surely is a can’t miss deal for Arsenal.
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