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Winger or Striker or Both: Analyzing Arsenal’s Best Forward Options For The January Transfer Window

Arsenal 2022-23 Season

As the January transfer window draws closer, Arsenal will be taking a look at some of the forwards available in the market in order to reinforce their attacking department as the Gunners try to keep up their title charge.

Arsenal have restarted their 2022-23 season after the end of the Qatar World Cup. They enjoyed a productive mid-season break after making a fantastic start to the ongoing campaign. Arsenal currently sit on top of the Premier League with 40 points from 15 league games.

Arsenal team celebrating, Arsenal, forwards, January window
Image Obtained Via Football.London

10 players from the Arsenal squad have been involved with their respective National teams in the FIFA World Cup. Unfortunately, Gabriel Jesus picked up a knee injury that could rule him out for 2-3 months.

This leaves Eddie Nketiah as Arsenal’s only natural Number 9 at this moment. Despite the crafty goal against West Ham United a few days ago, Nketiah’s unconvincing performance against Juventus has cast doubts on whether Arteta can rely on him over an extended stretch.

Additionally, Arsenal are a little short of options in the wide positions. Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka are sure starters in Arteta’s system. However, the young duo do not have adequate backups for their role.

Players like Martin Odegaard, Fabio Vieira, Reiss Nelson, and Emile Smith Rowe can all play in a wide role if necessary but prefer to play in other positions.

This means that Arsenal have two problems to address in the winter transfer window:

  1. Sign a quality centre-forward who can deputize in Jesus’ absence, and add more depth to the squad.
  2. Sign a winger who could relieve Saka or Martinelli of excessive minutes.

The Gunners have been linked with three players in recent weeks. All three names could adequately help Arsenal address both problems, in different ways.

  1. Mykhaylo Mudryk

Mykhaylo Mudryk, Arsenal, forwards, January window
Image Obtained Via Transfermarkt

Mudryk has been linked with Arsenal for several months now. The Ukrainian winger has 7 goals and 6 assists from just 12 league games this season (stats via Transfermarkt).

Recent reports suggested that Arsenal are in pole position to snap up the 21-year-old in the January transfer window. A fee in the range of £40 million could see the skilful winger change sides.

Mudryk has solely played as a left-winger this season. He is an excellent dribbler and loves to have the ball at his feet. Mudryk also has a sharp eye for goal and is a constant threat in the final third. His passing ability and decision-making on the ball still require furnishing. But given his young age, fans can definitely expect him to improve with maturity.

Signing Mudryk will not help Arteta to directly replace Gabriel Jesus in the starting eleven. However, it provides the Spaniard with the prospect of an interesting tactical switch. Deploying Mudryk in a wider role would free up Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian could be attempted in a centre-forward role until Jesus returns.

Many fans may recall that Martinelli actually began his Arsenal career as a centre-forward. The 21-year-old was moved onto the flanks as he was behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette in the pecking order.

Arteta has previously considered reverting Martinelli back into a central role too. Meanwhile, the wide man has settled into his new role brilliantly, already scoring 6 times this season. Still, the option of deploying Martinelli as a striker promises to add a different dimension to the Arsenal frontline.

It is up to Edu and Arteta on whether Arsenal can afford to run the risk of signing a winger to replace their star striker.

  1. Joao Felix

Joao Felix playing for Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, forwards, January window
Image Obtained Via GOAL

Since his big-money move to Atletico Madrid in 2019, Felix really has not got things going. The Portuguese forward has displayed flashes of brilliance in patches, scoring 33 goals and assisting 18 in 129 games (stats via Transfermarkt).

It has been evident that Diego Simeone’s pragmatic style has hindered the 23-year-old’s natural game. It appears that Felix has finally grown disgruntled with his position at the club. Recently, Atletico Madrid CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin confirmed that Felix could leave in the January window itself:

“He is the biggest transfer that the club has made. I think he can play at the highest level in the world, but for the reasons that are not worth saying now, the relationship between the coach and him is not good. Neither is his motivation. The reasonable thing is to think that he will leave. Although I would love him to stay here, he doesn’t want to remain at the club.”

Atletico Madrid could demand a fee of around £100 million to sell the Portuguese striker. While such an amount is undoubtedly out of Arsenal’s reach, the Gunners could try for a short-term loan deal with an option to buy.

Such a short-term deal would allow Felix to effectively compete with Jesus and Nketiah for a place in the starting line-up. The 2021 La Liga winner can also provide depth out wide or in an advanced playmaker role.

Felix would offer Arteta a slightly different variation than Jesus. However, both players will excel in the free “false-nine” role in Arteta’s system. With the likes of Saka, Martinelli and Odegaard around him, Felix will be able to effectively drop deeper to pick up possession and attack the opponents.

Gianluca Di Marzio has suggested that Arsenal are not an option for Felix, since the forward prefers PSG.

“Arsenal certainly not, because he wants to play for Paris Saint-Germain. Atletico Madrid just don’t want to lose him at all and they are asking 130-140 million euros (£112 – £120 million) for him.

“Paris Saint-Germain would be a logical choice if he does leave Atletico. After all, there are not that many clubs that can afford to pay him and PSG are interested in young players for the future. So that they can absorb a departure from Mbappe or Neymar or so that they have a replacement when Messi’s contract expires.”

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  1. Marco Asensio

Marco Asensio playing for Real Madrid, Arsenal, forwards, January window
Image Obtained Via Football.London

Asensio has been linked with a move to Arsenal for over a year now. The Spaniard has failed to lock down his place in the Real Madrid starting XI for a while now. Across the last 4 seasons, Asensio has only 44 league starts, as the emergence of Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo have pushed him down in the pecking order.

Marco Asensio was also a part of the Spanish squad for the FIFA World Cup. The 26-year-old primarily has been used on either flank at Real Madrid. However, National team manager Luis Enrique utilized the former Espanyol winger in a false-nine role.

Asensio is a skilful winger with a sharp eye for goal. The Spanish international loves to cut onto his left foot and has a great long shot. He is also an intelligent forward and picks up dangerous areas to occupy during the attack.

The biggest concern for Arsenal would be Asensio’s poor injury history. Since his Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury in 2019, he has missed 48 games for Real Madrid due to various injuries. Asensio has also looked quite average since his return from injury.

If Arsenal are looking to find an able backup to Jesus, they will need a more reliable option who can be available for major portions of the campaign and deliver good performances.

Who should Arsenal sign: Mudryk, Felix or Asensio? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Adithya Ravi
Football enthusiast. Stat enthusiast

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