Arsenal’s transfer activity is increasing at the moment. A £25million deal for central defender Mustafi is thought to be close and now according to reports from France, the Gunners are in for Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez.
According to L’Equipe Arsenal have already had one bid turned down for Mahrez and have since returned with an improved €41million bid.
Mahrez scored 17 Premier League goals last season and also made 11 assists. The Algerian, albeit not a striker, is a natural goal threat and would certainly add productivity to an Arsenal side that has ultimately lacked efficiency in the final third since Robin van Persie’s departure.
With the lack of central strikers on the market currently, perhaps the addition of Mahrez would be a good alternative for the Gunners and it could lead to a formation change for the Gunners. Alexis Sanchez who is expected to start as a striker on Sunday, could play that position more regularly and allow Mahrez to come in and start on the right-hand side.
Not only would this allow both Alexis and Mahrez to be in the team, but it could possibly bring out the best in Mesut Ozil and also allow the development of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alex Iwobi to continue, as both players can also play on the left wing.
It could come down to, can Arsenal sign a striker that is of better quality than Mahrez? At the moment it doesn’t look like it. Although Alexandre Lacazette is available for around £45million, I think Mahrez is a better player.
Some may say that Alexis cannot play as a lone striker but I disagree. He has the hunger to go and hunt for the ball, the aerial ability and strength to hold it up and win attacking headers. He can score from inside or outside of the box and his pace would stretch defences in a way that Giroud cannot.
So would Mahrez improve Arsenal? If he can replicate last season’s form then certainly.
Ozil is the only Arsenal midfielder who comes close to Mahrez in terms of statistics, even Alexis Sanchez struggled to hit the heights of the 2014/15 season weighing in with only 13 goals and four assists himself. With Alexis in a more central role and the likes of Ozil and Mahrez behind him, I think the Chilean could be reborn and thrive in a more central position. If it doesn’t work or if Arsenal want to play with an alternative option then the Gunners always have Olivier Giroud as a perfectly good option through the middle.
€41million is only £35million and that is not likely to be enough to persuade Leicester City to part with last seasons PFA Player of the Year. The L’Equipe report does mention that the Gunners could also include €9million in add ons, that would take the potential value of the deal to around €50million. Still I think Leicester, if forced into a sale, would want to hold the Gunners to ransom and try and receive around €58million (£50million).
Chelsea are also thought to be interested in Mahrez but new manager Antonio Conte has so far baulked at the excessive asking prices floating around at the moment.
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