If you’re wondering if you’ve read this piece, or something not too dissimilar before, it’s probably because you have. Last year, the season before that and, most likely, the other two seasons that followed since Robin van Persie’s controversial move to Manchester United in 2012.
Arsenal’s hunt for a top striker has entered its fourth year and with the lack of genuine high quality candidates available being coupled with the fact that some of the more popular names to be associated with Arsenal in the off-season have already found new clubs, you wouldn’t bet against the Gunners eventually looking to fill the void left by Van Persie with, well, the man himself.
There are a still a few candidates out there for Arsenal to look at, however, before the thought of a comeback begins to creep into one’s mind definitively. Here are three strikers that could calm the fans’ cravings for an elite goal-getter:
1 – Alexandre Lacazette
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Club: Olympique Lyonnais
Lately, not a day goes by where the potential link-up between Arsenal and Alexandre Lacazette isn’t talked about in the papers. With the rumours comes Olympique Lyonnais’ president Jean-Michel Aulas, a seasoned professional when it comes to the transfer market. If reports in France are to be trusted, even the “irreplaceable” Lacazette has a price to his name and he’s there for the taking should Arsenal believe he’s good enough.
Despite toning down his appetite for goal in this past year, 54 goals and 12 assists in his last 84 appearances might suggest that he is, at the very least, worthy of the north Londoners’ attention. In the past two seasons, that’s 12 goals more than the often-maligned Olivier Giroud, who’s appeared 90 times for the Gunners in the past two seasons.
Averaging just over 0.6 goals a game, only the then Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a better ratio in Ligue 1 last season than a “below-par” Lacazette, who initially felt the full effects of Nabil Fekir’s injury, his Lyon strike partner, when scoring just six league goals from August to December.
Of those in Ligue 1 to have started consistently as a striker, only Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani and Diego Rolan from Girondins Bordeaux managed to top Lacazette’s passing accuracy (78%), averaging 30.15 passes per game.
Closer to home, despite doubling Lacazette’s number of assists amassed during last season, Giroud trails his compatriot in both passing accuracy and the number of successful passes – 569 to 792 – pointing towards a greater involvement from Arsenal’s centre forward position should Lacazette arrive at the Emirates Stadium.
Acquiring the 25-year-old is sure to leave its mark on Arsenal’s transfer kitty, but with the Lyon man visibly quicker and more likely to fashion his own chances in comparison the Gunners’ number 12, Lacazette would at least offer Wenger a potentially decisive alternative to what’s often been Giroud’s one-man show over the past four years. With the stakes being as high as they are in the Premier League this season, providing answers and alternative methods through squad depth and differing player profiles becomes paramount to those vying for success.