Arsenal: Arteta gives honest assessment of progress
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Arsenal are likely to be in the market for a new striker this summer, with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah facing uncertain futures ahead of the upcoming transfer window. The latter has reportedly been made available for a move away after struggling to hold down a first-team spot since the turn of the year, although his departure would hardly come as a crushing blow to the north London club.
A potential exit for Lacazette, on the other hand, would leave a significant gap at the top of the pitch that would need to be addressed with a quality replacement.
The Frenchman has been one of the few shining lights throughout Arsenal’s hugely disappointing campaign, finding the net on 17 occasions in all competitions.
His tally includes the 13 goals scored in Premier League action as well as three in the Europa League, with two of those coming in the crucial quarter-final second-leg victory over Slavia Prague.
Despite popping up at important moments to drag Arsenal out of the doldrums, with his decisive goal against north London rivals Tottenham back in March serving as another example, Lacazette could be on his way out in the summer after being linked with the likes of Atletico Madrid and Juventus.
His contract is set to expire at the end of next season, leaving the Gunners with the question of whether to cash in now or risk losing him for nothing in a year’s time.
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The 29-year-old’s departure would undoubtedly scale down Arsenal’s cutting edge in attack, meaning that the addition of a worthy successor would be an immediate priority in order to pick up the burden next season.
A number of potential targets have been linked with the club in recent weeks, including Lyon’s Moussa Dembele and Brentford talisman Ivan Toney.
However, Arsenal’s next attacking star could be set to arrive in the form of talented Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard.
The 24-year-old has enjoyed a stellar campaign in Scotland, chipping in with 21 goals for the Parkhead club, and it has been suggested that he would be open to the idea of joining the Gunners.
The former Paris Saint-Germain striker has his heart set on a summer move away from Celtic, according to the Evening Standard, which could give Arsenal every chance of securing his signature.
Club director Edu would likely need to fight off competition from Leicester City, who are also said to be keen admirers, but if Arsenal can push a deal over the line they could be reaping the rewards for years to come.
Edouard is a cultured finisher, more than capable of thriving in the No 9 role on a weekly basis, and boasts all of the attacking qualities needed to succeed at the highest level in good time.
He is also an adept passer, which enables him to create chances as well as finish them when paired with his dangerous movement and impressive on-pitch awareness.
Although money at Arsenal appears to be tight amid the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Edouard would represent an affordable coup with Celtic set to request no more than £25million in exchange for his services.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the Gunners could even entertain the idea of a player-plus-cash deal, with recent reports suggesting that Granit Xhaka could be set to trade places with Denis Zakaria of Borussia Monchengladbach this summer.
In this case, Nketiah would serve as the ideal bargaining chip in a move that could suit all parties.
The prospect of a season without European football has the potential to sway Edouard towards Leicester, who are closing in on Champions League qualification.
However, with Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho firing on all cylinders and unlikely to play second fiddle to the Celtic man, he could instead opt to join Arsenal and take up a more prominent role in attack, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang now accustomed to his new role on the left flank.
Everything seems to suggest that Edouard would be the perfect fit for Arsenal if Lacazette is sold ahead of next season, although the likelihood of an impending move to the capital remains uncertain with Leicester still very much in the frame.
That said, if he can be persuaded to side with Mikel Arteta over Brendan Rodgers, he could prove to be an effective long-term solution to the club’s precarious attacking situation and help steer the Gunners back to the upper reaches of the Premier League table.
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