It’s no secret that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta wants to bolster his attacking options this summer with previous club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having left in January and Alex Lacazette soon to follow.
23-year-old Englishman Eddie Nketiah is on the verge of agreeing to a lucrative new three-year-deal at the Emirates Stadium, reward for the purple patch he hit in the latter stages of the 2021–22 campaign, and this might well be a proactive move by Arsenal to protect any future transfer value. Nketiah’s haul of five goals in Arsenal’s last seven Premier League matches wasn’t quite enough to fire the Gunners into next season’s Champions League, however, so a new cavalry will be needed if Arsenal is to improve on its relatively paltry total of 61 goals scored from 38 league outings last term.
Arteta has been at the helm since late 2019 and, incredibly, he’s yet to sign a striker. That certainly looks set to change. Let’s take a brief look at five sharp shooters on Arsenal’s shortlist, with the club widely expected to sign at least two high-profile attackers between now and the end of August.
🇧🇷 Gabriel Jesus
Pep Guardiola has called 25-year-old Brazilian Gabriel Jesus “the best pressing forward in world football” and his relentlessness when defending from the front is a quality that Arteta especially loves. Some pundits have criticized his strike-rate at the elite level, but 95 goals in 236 appearances across all competitions for the English champions isn’t exactly shabby.
With Norwegian superstar Erling Haaland and Argentinian prospect Julián Álvarez both landing in Manchester soon, Jesus’ opportunities in the first-team are about to become even more limited. His contract is set to expire in 2023, too, but Arsenal will still have to fork out a considerable fee for a player of Jesus’ calibre and experience.
It’s rare to to see Englishmen thriving outside of the English Premier League, but that’s exactly what Tammy Abraham has been doing since swapping London for Rome. Abraham’s career has taken off in the Italian capital. He plundered 17 strikes in Serie A last term, the highest single-season tally of goals by an Englishman in Italian top-flight history, and also played his part in their Europa Conference League win, Roma’s first piece of silverware in 14 years.
It’s understood that Chelsea has an €80m buy-back clause though, so the Gunners might need t exceed that figure if they are to land the pacy, powerful 24-year-old. Arsenal’s interest in Abraham is well-documented though and it isn’t going away.
Everton’s number 9 is another Englishman with plenty of Premier League experience, but any move for the 25-year-old would have plenty of risk attached to it. DCL had a season to forget in 2021–22 with most of it blighted by injuries and inconsistency with Everton scrapping for their lives at the foot of the table.
What Calvert-Lewin does offer, though, is something totally different to what Arsenal currently has at their disposal. DCL is a poacher who possesses a considerable aerial presence and an underrated ability to knit the play together on the ground. Calvert-Lewin would also offer Arsenal a “Plan B” when they need to go a bit more direct. Arsenal’s Plan A was non-existent in the last three matches of the season and they looked bereft of alternatives. DCL wouldn’t come cheap, no English players moving within England do, but it might be a risk worth considering.
🇦🇷 Lautaro Martínez
Talented Argentine Lautaro Martínez has made himself an indispensable member of Inter Milan’s attack with his superb ball-carrying ability and knack for scoring big goals in big games. With 20 goals in 38 appearances for Copa América and Finalissima winners Argentina, he’s also proving his worth on the international stage.
In many ways, Lautaro is a throwback to former Arsenal fan favourite Alexis Sánchez, a disruptive dribbler who took risks and caused mayhem in opposition defenses. At 24, Lautaro is still far off his peak years, and that’s an exciting prospect for anybody making a move for a player that’s set to become one of the best strikers in the world.
🇳🇬 Victor Osimhen
Napoli and Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen is known for his rangy running of the channels, dribbling and ball-carrying ability and persistent pressing, meaning that his profile makes him a potential dream come true for Mikel Arteta. He did cost Napoli €75m though, and on the assumption that they wouldn’t want to make a loss on the deal, the 23-year-old ex-Lille man wouldn’t come cheap. Deals for Martínez and Osimhen would be difficult to pull off without the carrot of Champions League football to dangle in front of their noses, but Gooners can dream.
From this six-man shortlist it’s abundantly clear that Arsenal is on the hunt for strikers that offer a physical presence, whether that’s aerially or in Mikel Arteta’s pressing system, and approaching the peak of their powers. Who knows? Italy’s Serie A might well be the breeding ground for Arsenal’s next number 9.