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Gunners Not Firing: Ranking Arsenal’s striker options

Arsenal needs a striker. This is clear, even if they’ve been playing well. Their former talisman Aubameyang has departed for Catalonia and their starting striker Lacazette (despite boasting a strong all-round game) has only scored two non-penalty goals in the league this season. Losing out on their main target Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus would’ve been tough to take for Mikel Arteta, but there are still many options around the continent that will boost the squad’s firepower. It’ll be up to the current crop to fight for the top four this season but signing a top forward will ensure that the battle will be easier in coming seasons. Here we rank the realistic options Arsenal has when it comes to a new centre-forward.

3: Raúl de Tomás

This wildcard option has shown that he’s far more than just a fox in the box, as his all-around game has dazzled supporters in Spain.

Raul De Tomas kneeslides in jubilation and would be a good option as a new Arsenal striker

One of the more surprising links made with Arsenal during the January window was Espanyol’s Raúl de Tomás. It is safe to say De Tomás doesn’t attract the same excitement or attention as the other ‘prestige’ targets on the Gunners’ radar, yet the Spanish forward is quietly having a very strong season. Playing in the same city as ex-captain Aubameyang, the Madrid-born striker has scored 13 league goals this season. Only Real star Karim Benzema has more in La Liga.

It’s been a rollercoaster few years for De Tomás. A product of Real Madrid’s academy (but only ever made one appearance for Los Blancos), De Tomás failed to score a single league goal for Portuguese giants Benfica during his spell there in the 19/20 season. Espanyol took a punt on the out-of-favor striker, but he failed to make much of an impact as Los Periquitos were relegated. It was the 20/21 season in Spain’s Segunda Division that changed everything for De Tomás, as he secured both a league title for his team and a golden boot for himself. Despite his haul of 23 league goals, many would’ve doubted that he would be able to translate his skills into regular top division output.

Flash forward to February of 2021, where the all-around skills of De Tomás, including excellent dribbling and strong passing, have followed him into La Liga. His rate of a goal every 156 minutes (alongside three assists in the league) earned him his first caps for Spain last November.

However, despite his meteoric rise, Arsenal shouldn’t be throwing the kitchen sink at De Tomás. He is 27, which isn’t past his prime but is significantly older than the other targets. De Tomás has also only had one season at an elite level, which means he is not a reliable option. His skill set is rather similar to Alexandre Lacazette, albeit with a much better finishing rate. Arsenal should pursue the signing only if they sign another top forward and De Tomás should be seen as a replacement for Lacazette or Eddie Nketiah rather than Aubameyang.

 

2: Dominic Calvert-Lewin

The 24-year-old Everton number nine provides an option that already knows the league and offers a different skillset to other Gunners attackers.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin prepares to knee slide and he would be a good option as a new Arsenal striker

In the 20/21 season, Calvert-Lewin scored more headers than the entire Arsenal squad. This stat alone displays the stylistic change that The Toffees forward provides. Star Gunners left-back Kieran Tierney is only putting in 0.5 successful crosses per game, a joint career-low, but anyone that watches the Scotland international realizes he’s particularly adept at whipping the ball in; the disconnect between these two statements paints a clear picture: Arsenal lack options in the air. There are few players on the planet that fit that bill more than Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

There is also an inherent risk with making the stylistic change that ‘DCL’ would require. At the time of writing, Arsenal will be placed firmly in the top four if they win their games in hand, and have produced standout performances against Manchester City, Liverpool, and West Ham at different points this season. Why risk changing that? Whilst Arsenal lacks aerial threat, and the 16 goals that Calvert-Lewin scored last season demonstrate his obvious ability, is it worth trying to fit a square peg into a round hole when it comes to playing style?

The signing of Calvert-Lewin would do one of two things; add a new dimension to the way Arteta’s side can play, adding an aerial presence that knows the division well, or he could crash and burn in a system that is built for players not built in his mold. Some may feel this move is worth the risk, others would feel like it would not be worth the hefty price it would inevitably cost to convince Everton to sell. Arsenal should pursue if they cannot land targets that fit their ‘dream profile’.

1: Alexander Isak

Combining silky skill, strength, speed, and scoring, Superstar Swedish Sociedad striker Isak would be the perfect fit in North London but securing his talents may be a hard task.

Alexander Isak winces

Gooners have a reputation for their ‘forensic’ analysis of potential signings, and they added to that reputation when supporters thought they had prematurely spotted a deadline day signing when Alexander Isak was seen in London in a newly registered vehicle. Surprisingly enough, he didn’t sign for Arsenal in the days that followed. It has been reported that he had discussions with Arsenal whilst he spent time in the English capital, but it is equally as likely that he came over for a shopping trip as he was seen with ex-Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj.

Despite the non-completion of the transfer, Isak has remained linked with the Gunners, (as well as Manchester United and Barcelona) and it’s clear to see why. Despite struggling this season, over the past three to four years Isak has established himself as one of the top young forwards in Europe. After failing to work his way into the Dortmund side as a teenager, Isak scored 12 goals in 12 games for Dutch side Willem II. The Swedish attacker scored 26 goals in his first 44 starts after arriving in Spain’s top-flight and displayed his talents for the national team at last year’s Euros.

Combining impressive close control and a creative array of finishes, Isak would likely add an edge that Arsenal has lacked since the 19/20 season. The ability to take on a defender and then provide a curling finish into the top corner is something Arsenal lack and Isak provides. The versatile forward has the strength to body defenders and the pace to get in behind them. Whilst he hasn’t excelled at heading the ball, his 6’2 frame means that they’ll always be potential to improve. As mentioned before, he has struggled this season, scoring only four goals in the league, but at just 22 he has more than enough time to iron out his issues.

The only thing that will stop Arsenal from completing the transfer will be his price tag. The £75m release clause attached to his name is a blessing and curse; Arteta and Edu can secure their man if they want, but there’s also little chance that they will be able to negotiate a deal any lower than that fee. If Arsenal can afford it, this deal is a no-brainer.

Written by Sam Houston

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