It all looked so promising for Arsenal just a few days ago. When the news broke that the Gunners had activated the £20million release clause in Jamie Vardy’s contract, everyone thought he would definitely accept the offer. But it doesn’t appear to be the case.
Vardy has asked to make his decision after Euro 2016, although it appears Arsenal may not wait. The word coming from the England camp now is that Vardy is leaning towards turning down Arsenal, whilst the Gunners patience in growing thin as they wait for an answer from the player. They had asked to have a response before the player flew to France on Monday, but it did not come. The saga could now drag on but the longer it goes, the more likely to seems that he will opt to stay at Leicester.
If Vardy does indeed turn down the Gunners then you may expect Arsenal to turn to Alvaro Morata, who had been strongly linked with a move to Arsenal for many weeks before the interest in Vardy emerged.
But now the most recent reports suggest that it is Chelsea that will go all out for Morata, who has an asking price of in excess of £40million. As we have previously explained, any deal for Morata is complicated by the fact that before he is sold, Real Madrid plan to activate a £23million buy-back clause and then sell him on for £40million or more. There are now fresh reports that suggest Juventus have offered Madrid £11.2million to remove that buy-back clause. That may tempt the Spanish club although with Chelsea now reportedly willing to pay £40million Juventus are likely to be left disappointed.
Chelsea are in desperate need for a striker having let Alexandre Pato and Radamel Falcao return to their parent clubs and still uncertainty regarding the futures of both Loic Remy and Diego Costa, with Atletico Madrid determined to re-sign the latter.
Morata has been dubbed by many as ‘the Arsenal’ type of striker that they would normally sign. Arsenal’s bid for Vardy, successful or not shows that Wenger may be changing his strategy and looking to sign a striker of a different profile to whom he would normally sign. Whilst Morata would boost Arsenal’s attacking options, he doesn’t really offer too much of an alternative to Olivier Giroud, perhaps only that he has slightly faster acceleration. If Morata opts to join Chelsea though and Vardy declines Arsenal’s approach, the Gunners may struggle to find a top level striker that will join the club this summer. There will certainly be very few available at Vardy’s £20million release clause.
Chelsea will welcome Morata, especially if Costa were to leave. Morata knows Conte well and the Italian is clearly a fan if he is choosing to spend up to £40million on him. Such a large bid would surely put Costa’s future in doubt, unless Conte opts to play with two strikers in his new look Chelsea side.
Time will tell but at the moment Vardy’s indecision is costing Arsenal time as they look to complete the bulk of their transfer activity before their training starts at the start of July. Wenger will be desperate to make an attacking signing before then but it isn’t looking too good. Both Morata and Vardy are playing at Euro 2016 so it is unlikely that either player will complete a move until after the tournament ends.