The striker situation at Arsenal is the hot topic of debate within the squad at a time where there hasn’t been this much harmony within the camp for many years.

There always has been and forever will be contentious issues within any squad. One’s opinion on a player may differ drastically from the person next to them, just as the usage, or lack thereof, of another individual may be discussed until the cows come home.

In an Arsenal side boasting five centre-forwards – again, this number could be considered as four depending on personal opinion – there is plenty of range for debate.

What is inarguable, however, is that there will be fairly significant movement in that department over the next two transfer windows.

Arsenal: 4 striker transfer scenarios for Mikel Arteta in the January window with decisions to make on Lacazette, Nketiah and Balogun

Who should and who shouldn’t be moved on will reign supreme, but from Mikel Arteta’s standpoint he will have decisions of his own to make, those that just so happen to be the ones that truly matter.

Ahead of the January transfer window the scope is there for very little to happen, just as there could be quite a lot of action. In terms of different scenarios, there are plenty.

These all hinge around three of the strikeforce in particular: Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun.

While focus is now on Liverpool and the ensuing six weeks of manic festive Premier League action, internally there is work being done to find a solution with the three aforementioned centre-forwards. Of the potential outcomes, there are four that spring to mind.

1. Folarin Balogun Leaves – Lacazette and Nketiah Stay

Kicking off with what may well turn out to be the more likely turn of events to transpire, this is one that, like the others, has its positives and negatives.

The obvious positive is that Balogun departs on loan to play some ‘proper’ football: freezing cold northern venues on a Wednesday night, embracing the second tier’s physicality and being thrust into an environment out of his comfort zone.

It’s one thing being hyped about a striker scoring for fun in the Under-23’s; it’s another thing seeing that transfer into senior football. In order to make a fuller assessment of where Balogun is, he has to be playing against men.

There will be, and already are, suitors aplenty eyeing a six-month loan deal in January.

Of course, this would mean that Lacazette and Nketiah stay in north London to see out their Arsenal deals – and then walk away for free. The pair would hopefully constitute the end of such a scenario unfolding again.

Given that both will receive offers with more financial reward in the summer, there will be some reluctance for either to move. Besides, Lacazette is contributing to the team at present and even if Nketiah isn’t playing, he will be first in line for cup matches and there waiting in the wings in case of injury.

If being pushed for an answer, this outcome looks the more likely to happen.

2. Eddie Nketiah Leaves – Lacazette and Balogun Stay

It’s been made clear that Nketiah wants to leave Arsenal. He’s informed the club of his desire to do so, despite Arteta’s willingness to keep hold of him.

Why Arteta wants to do that is…a topic for another day.

In this scenario, some money (likely very little) makes its way to Arsenal in return for Nketiah’s services, with Balogun taking up the role of cup striker and backup option to Lacazette when Aubameyang departs for AFCON, or in the case of some unwanted injuries. Of course, Gabriel Martinelli will still be here, and he will be vying for that very same role if the centre-forward ploy persists.

Realistically, how much is Balogun going to play? The best thing for him is senior football but if Martinelli acts as No. 2 striker across January and No. 3 for the remainder of the season, the only way Balogun will be avoiding another half-season of Under-23 football is in the case of injury striking.

There always needs to be a contingency plan, like Arteta did with Nketiah last January instead of letting him leave, but it can equally backfire. After all, Aubameyang boasts an impeccable injury record.

What fee would be deemed worthwhile to move Nketiah on in January and potentially prevent Balogun from leaving on loan? That also needs noting, just as there being every chance a move may not come off until deadline day by which time the minutes will have been depleted even more for Balogun to make his mark.

3. Lacazette Leaves – Nketiah and Balogun Stay

Arsenal have historically held on to players for too long. Offers have come in, been turned down, and the club has been left to rue their reluctance for risk.

What if someone makes an offer of, say, £10m in January for Lacazette? While he has undoubted importance to the group and the team, can they realistically turn down another opportunity to cash in on someone whose stocks are up?

It’s an interesting position the club will find themselves in as they will have to balance out what worth they could get from him in January with what his presence on and off the pitch could get them come the end of the season.

The offer has to actually arrive, mind you.

Knowing he will be available for free in the summer, offers in that region are unlikely. Of course, there is no knowing, and the desperation for a striker in mid-season could see teams try and jump the queue for his signature.

Perhaps more importantly, however, is the topic of whether Arsenal can afford to let him go and have Nketiah, Martinelli and Balogun as the backup centre-forwards. He may not be playing as a natural No. 9 now but at some stage Arsenal are likely to reintroduce Martin Odegaard and play Aubameyang as the lone striker. If the latter gets injured, can Arteta trust any of those three to lead the line?

It’s an interesting scenario, that’s for sure.

 

4. Two Strikers Leave – One Stays

Well, well, well. What do we have here?

The transfer window is always coughing up the occasional surprise and, who knows, maybe some offers come in that Arsenal can’t refuse.

It may be that the club not only lets Balogun go out on loan, but also sanctions the sale of either Lacazette or Nketiah. In that instance, how much of a risk are Arsenal running by seeing out the 2021/22 campaign with only two recognised strikers and another one still learning the ropes?

Equally, perhaps there are offers for Lacazette and Nketiah that tempt the Gunners’ hand, leaving Balogun, Martinelli and Aubameyang to complete the strikeforce.

Were this to be the case then the club would surely be looking at moving the out-of-contract pair on as late as feasibly possible in the window in order to get as much out of them. If only transfer season were that simple.

The additional wildcard – the wildercard – is that they bring someone in during the winter window. Arsenal will need to sign a new striker in the summer, and should a financially viable opportunity present itself in January then there is no doubting that the club would take it under serious consideration.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Click to Earn instant $10
x