Cesc Fabregas has been linked with a move back to his former club.
So far, despite constant rumblings around the Twittersphere and the football media about Arsenal’s desire to sign a big name striker this summer, the club’s hesitancy to pay the required price tags has meant that a number of former key targets have already moved to other clubs – Stevan Jovetic and Edinson Cavani, (a player Arsenal bid £30m for in January) in particular. David Villa was another player Wenger was keen on last January; however the attention switched to bigger targets following the confirmation of key sponsorship deals which were received with unanimous optimism amongst Arsenal fans regarding the availability of extra funds increasing the club’s chances of competing for the very best players in the 'seller’s market'. Despite this, and regular positive soundbites from the CEO, Ivan Gazidis, the emergence within the past couple of years of the French oligarch owned clubs as teams who are willing to pay any price tag has lead to massive inflation and meant that the fee clubs like Arsenal are having to pay for their targets has changed massively.
If Higuain does go to Napoli, as mooted by several sources following the grand unveiling by Twitter's ITKs of Luis Suarez and Wayne Rooney as Arsenal’s main targets, then the likelihood is that Real Madrid will move for Suarez. Chelsea are a club who have already bid for Rooney, and it seems that Stamford Bridge is his likeliest destination.
Football fans – Arsenal ones in particular, are melodramatic creatures. We’re either completely positive or overwhelmingly negative, and thus, the biannual transfer market roller-coaster isn't overly good for our blood pressure. So sit down, relax and stop worrying about not signing anyone yet, there are plenty more forwards in the window. Below are a number of options, who although many may feel are not players who would help Arsenal challenge for the Premier League, are certainly ones who would help to strengthen the current team.
Simply put - Roberto Soldado is a good player. At the age of 28, he’s certainly in his prime, scoring 30 goals last season for Valencia, 24 of those coming in the league. Despite being rejected by Real Madrid, Soldado moved to Getafe for €4m in 2008 where he scored 33 goals in 66 games, helping them to earn a Europa League place in the 2009-2010 season. Earning a move to Valencia in the summer of 2010, 'Gudari' has become one of the most highly rated strikers in Europe, with 81 goals in 141 games since joining his current club. Valencia president, Amadeo Salvo has publicly set a deadline until 3rd August for clubs to submit bids for the striker, and with a reported release clause of €18m, Soldado would prove good value for money in the current climate, even for a team like Arsenal who rely on strikers with good movement. Realistically, however, he’s not a player who would be the club’s striker for more than 3 or 4 years and therefore despite his prolific nature, may not be the best option for Arsenal in spite of the fans burning desire for a trophy.
A well renowned player amongst FIFA Career Mode regulars, Luis Muriel would be another good option for Arsenal to consider. The Colombian is rated highly in Italy, where he plays for Udinese, and in 2012 he received the Serie A Young Player of the Year Award alongside Milan wonderkid, Stephan El Shaarawy. Muriel scored 11 goals last season, and although that may make him sound slightly profligate for a team that finished 5th in Serie A last season, he is anything but. Ten of his goals scored came in the 15 starts he did make, with him boasting a chance conversion rate of 26.8%, the 9th highest amongst players who scored 10 or more goals in Europe's top 5 leagues last season. On top of that, when it came to crunch time in the run in to the end of the season, Muriel netted 5 goals in 6 games, proving that he thrives under pressure. Despite Muriel being a very talented player, (drawing comparisons to Ronaldo), there are concerns about Muriel’s weight, something which may cause concern for Arsene Wenger considering the problems he had with another talented but unfit player in Andrey Arshavin. Another potential problem is whether or not he’d be able to lead the line at a club like Arsenal in a 4-2-3-1 formation as his preferred position is a second striker. Overall, Muriel would be a ‘Russian roulette’ type of signing and although his potential is huge, he’s probably not the signing most Arsenal fans want right now with a market value of ‘just £12.5m’.
Although not technically a striker, Cesc Fabregas has featured a few times for both Barcelona and Spain as a ‘false 9’. With Olivier Giroud already at the club, a striker who enjoyed a largely successful first season at the club, signing Fabregas could be the ideal signing for Arsenal in terms of his ability to feature as a key midfielder, but also as a centre-forward. This tactic could work if Arsenal played two direct wingers in Podolski and Walcott as inside forwards, with Fabregas playing the ‘Messi role’ in a similar formation to the one Barcelona played under Guardiola. Realistically, it would work with Fabregas dropping deep to create chances for the clinical Walcott and Podolski, both wingers who prefer to play as a striker. Despite this, the change in system would also require Arsenal to switch from a double-pivot with one man behind the striker, to a three man midfield in order to give Fabregas the space he needs. The tactic is one largely untested in the Premier League, and as a result would be a huge gamble for Arsene Wenger to undertake, requiring each and every player to have a deep understanding of how it would work. Along with this, it would also be difficult to see Santi Cazorla fitting into any of the aforementioned positions. The Spaniard was Arsenal’s Player of the Year and arguably found his best form in a wide playmaking role, meaning that his presence in a formation which would require lots of goals from the wings would be far more limited. The rumoured buy back clause of £25m means that it would not be a problem for Arsenal to pay the fee, and Wenger's comments last week where he stated "We have the [first-option] clause in the contract so we would be on alert” suggest that Arsenal would move for the former captain if he decided to leave.
Like me, most Arsenal fans will be dying to sign a top class striker, with many truly believing that the club's chances of signing a world class striker like Rooney, Suarez or Higuain are pretty high. The money is certainly there, but the attraction of a higher salary or the greater likelihood of winning a trophy in the cases of Rooney or Suarez at other clubs may be too great a pull to attract them to the Emirates. Of course, there is the possibility of Arsenal ignoring the obvious step needed to propel the club onto the top of the Premier League podium and relying on Giroud, Sanogo and the emerging Akpom to lead the line, however the aforementioned players are arguably the next best alternatives to the forwards the club seem desperate to sign.