A Hitlist For Arsenal Boss Wenger


Even before it was revealed that Theo Walcott was going to miss the rest of the season, most Arsenal fans were aware they needed new striking options at the Emirates.

At the moment the enigma Niklas Bendtner is out injured and summer signing Yaya Sanogo has hardly been seen due to constant niggles. That leaves Lukas Podolski as Arsenal’s only real cover for frontman Oliver Giroud.

Arsene Wenger has made it clear that he dislikes the January transfer window. Rarely do you get a good deal. But in this occasion, especially with a title in the balance, he needs to bite the bullet and sign someone.

No doubt Monsieur Wenger will have his on list of targets and it will be far superior to mine but  I like to have a wee look around and see who I would look at.

Before I look at possible striking targets I think I would help if I explain why certain players won’t be arriving in North London this winter.

A lot of speculation still surrounds Radamel Falcao. Even on the day he signed for Monaco last summer, he was linked with an eventual move to Real Madrid. He hasn’t really pulled up any trees in ligue 1 so far and its been rumoured he wants away from Monte Carlo. If this is to happen then don’t expect it to materialise before the World Cup next summer. Plus expect him to make that move to Real!

As Madrid wait on that Falcao move, they wont be keen to sell Karim Benzema. Only once the Colombian arrives will the French star  be allowed to leave.

A loan deal for Chelsea’s Demba Ba was talked about in the summer. Now in January, with Arsenal leading the league don’t expect any of their rivals to sell or loan them any players. Why would they bolster a competitor at this vital stage? For this reason forget about Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez.

Since the pre-contract agreement was signed between Robert Lewandowski and Bayern Munich, a lot has been made about the future of Mario Mandzukic. No way will the Croat be leaving before the summer. Bayern don’t need to and wont do business until the day the Pole arrives.

So now lets look at some that may be available this transfer window.

Alvaro Morata has been heavily linked with a move to the Gunners in the press. The young Spanish starlet has impressed with his goal tallies for the Real Madrid Castilla side and the Spanish national youth set-up. But those goals have dried up with the Madrid senior side, mainly due to a lack of minutes on the field. A loan spell in England’s capital may just suit everyone concerned. Especially if you add  in a clause that could make the deal permanent in the summer, obviously in return Real would want a ‘first option’ clause to buy the player back. That said Benfica are rumoured to be interested in doing a permanent deal for the youngster and that would undoubtedly include a buy back clause.

Colombian internationalist Jackson Martinez has also been mentioned as a probable target for Arsenal. Porto have a good recent history in spotting great goalscoring potential after selling both Falcao and Hulk in huge deals. Jackson has bagged a whopping 49 times in 69 games for the Dragoes. The pacey, skilful attacker would give Oliver Giroud serious competition for that lone strikers role, but possibly the two could compliment each other in attack if given a chance. Giroud is a great foil and link up man, so he would be able to make space for the Colombian to run into.

Now there seems to be a £33m release clause in Martinez contract. Would Wenger really like to spend that fee in January? Plus he would be cup-tied for the Champions League (Although the league title will probably be the main aim this season).

In the EPL there could be a ‘dark horses’ for Wenger if he decides to take a bit of a gamble.

Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher, if available for the right fee, could be one for Wenger to look at. He is a proven scorer in England’s top flight with 44 strikes in 139 appearances. The Scotsman would be a very able deputy for Giroud as long as the 26 year old can prove his fitness and is willing to accept a lot of time on the bench.

He is used to the lone striking role and is another good foil for the creative attacking midfielders. A deal would only be possible if Sunderland were willing to sell for no more than £8m.

Former Spurs and Man Utd frontman Dimitar Berbatov would add experience to Arsenal’s frontline. The talented Bulgarian could offer something special up top. But would he offer enough when the Gunners had lost the ball and would he settle for being second best again? A small fee may just entice Wenger in the short term.

Nikica Jelavic had a very disappointing 2013 but this new year has already started brightly for the Croatian. An instinctive finisher he’d relish the opportunity to impress at a club the size of Arsenal. With the chances created by players such as Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla, Jelavic might just thrive at the Emirates.

Plus the former Rangers and Rapid Vienna star would see his chances of a World Cup slot improve sitting on Arsenal’s bench rather than on Everton’s. A cheap option at £5m but Wenger would be very wary of last years huge slump in Jelavic’s fortunes.

We can’t really talk about an Arsenal transfer window without looking at Ligue 1 for some possible targets. Wenger loves his homelands market and could pull off a deal from the French league.

I asked French Football Weekly editor Andrew Gibney his thoughts on who could look attractive to Arsene and he replied with ‘Alexandre Lacazette‘ and ‘Vincent Aboubakar‘.

Andrew described Lyon’s Lacazette as ‘Skilful and tricky, can play out wide but has done brilliantly central this season’. The fact he can play both as a winger and as a forward may be seen as ideal for Wenger as he replaces Walcott. As Andrew stated this is the French internationalists best season yet in terms of goals as he has 9 in 14 Ligue 1 outings.

Lyon are not the force they once were. So that could mean they are easier to deal with at the negotiation table but with an owner like Jean-Michel Aulas nothing is straightforward.

Aboubakar may actually be a long term Arsenal project. He signed with Lorient (A club with close links to Arsenal) in the summer. The powerful hitman has impressed with 11 league goals in 19 games in his debut season for his new side.

Given the links between the two clubs I can’t see Wenger disturbing the 21 year olds development by rushing through a deal. Lookout for the Cameroonian international signing for the Gunners in the future if he keeps on improving.

Mirko Vucinic could be seen a good stop gap signing. But would the player leave Juventus for the same back up role at the Emirates? I doubt it. Plus I think the Turin giants would prefer selling rather than doing a loan deal. That said it is a possible deal if nothings been done before the end of January.

Germany internationalist Max Kruse has been in fine form this term at Monchengladbach. But I am unsure Wenger would splash the cash on an unproven scorer. Had he had a few more good scoring seasons then maybe but I doubt Wenger will take that gamble.

So there you have it. Just a fun wee look at some possibilities at Arsenal, I bet I have missed out on a host of names. But I’m certainly not in the know and don’t claim to be like so many others this time of year.

It will be very interesting to see just who Wenger finally picks as his next Arsenal signing. It could be an important one!

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