Among other targets, Arsenal are being expected to add an attacker to their squad ahead of the 2023-24 campaign. As such, they have been linked with quite a few prominent options who would strengthen their frontline as the Gunners try to build a squad that can challenge for major trophies consistently.
Arsenal have enjoyed a fabulous 2022-23 season so far. The Gunners currently lead the Premier League table by 5 points over Manchester City. The league leaders are also in the Round of 16 of the Europa League, drawn to play Sporting Lisbon.
Manager Mikel Arteta has taken maximum advantage of a settled squad that has gelled together for about a year and a half now. This is clearly visible in the cohesive performances the team churns out on a regular basis.
As a result, the Gunners’ transfer strategy has also been adjusted accordingly. Sporting Director Edu has looked to rope in signings who can effectively compete with the starters and provide some quality squad depth. The signings of Leandro Trossard, Jorginho, and Jakub Kiwior all represent a step in this direction.
However, the Gunners can still add some steel to their frontline. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli have been mainstays in the starting XI this season. Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah have also chipped in with useful contributions.
However, injury issues to Reiss Nelson, Gabriel Jesus, and Emile Smith Rowe mean that North London side’s attack looks a little thin. Arsenal could rope in an attacker to improve their frontline for next season and here are three leading targets:
1. Folarin Balogun
The Yale end product has had two successful loan stints recently. Folarin Balogun scored 3 goals and created 3 more in 21 games on loan at Middlesbrough in the second half of last season. However, it is in France this year that the Englishman has really put himself on the map.
With 15 goals in Ligue 1, he is the third-highest scorer in the league behind Jonathan David and a particular Kylian Mbappe. It was widely expected that Balogun will return to his parent club after his loan ends. However, in a shocking revelation, it has been understood that Arsenal might in fact be looking to sell their wonderkid striker.
On deeper inspection, such a stance actually makes sense for Arsenal. From a financial perspective, any proceeds on Balogun’s sale would be an absolute profit for the Gunners, since they did not sign him from outside. With Stade De Reims, Olympique Marseille, and Villarreal interested, they may be able to secure a solid fee for the striker.
From a sporting perspective, Balogun is restricted by the fact that he plays solely as a centre-forward. Arteta has utilised Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah in the central role, while Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Martinelli can effectively provide cover too. This is more than sufficient depth for a system that requires only one striker on the field.
Trying to integrate Folarin Balogun into the squad could stall the 21-year-old’s career progression in the long run too. Therefore, Arsenal need a player that can play in more than one position across the frontline. This would give Arteta more tactical flexibility, while the signing can also compete for minutes with multiple players.
2. Marcus Thuram
Borussia Monchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram has 14 goals and 4 assists from 23 games this season. The former Guingamp forward was also a part of the French national team that reached the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Thuram has been linked with a transfer to the Emirates in the past too. The transfer becomes even more enticing for the Gunners as the Frenchman becomes a free agent in June. At the age of 25, the Frenchman would be a quality acquisition for Arteta’s roster at no cost.
However, the North London side are likely to face competition as the striker is attracting attention from several top clubs. This includes Chelsea, Manchester United, and FC Barcelona.
Marcus Thuram offers more versatility as compared to Balogun, as he can also be effectively used as a left-winger. These are the exact positions that new acquisition Trossard also covers. Martinelli and Smith Rowe also play down the left. However, Reiss Nelson is the only natural right-winger to cover for Saka on the right. Signing Marcus Thuram could be a little redundant for this reason.
3. Jesper Lindstrøm
Eintracht Frankfurt attacker Jesper Lindstrom could be amongst the potential targets for Arsenal too. The 22-year-old has 9 goals and 4 assists from 30 games this season.
Lindstrom has been mainly used on the right side of Frankfurt’s front-3. However, in Frankfurt’s 3-4-2-1 set-up, the Danish forward plays a much narrower role compared to Arteta’s wingers. Primarily right-footed, the Dane can also be played down the middle or on the left if needed.
The former Brondby man generally plays in a system where he is allowed more space in transitions too. Coming in from the right, the 22-year-old links up with his teammates Randal Kolo-Muani and Daichi Kamada to create danger in the final-third.
Lindstrom would give the Gunners good cover for Saka on the right-wing. He can also be a contingency option for the left-flank, or in attacking midfield behind Martin Odegaard and Fabio Vieira. However, he would need to adapt effectively to Arteta’s system as it is quite a contrast to his current role.
The self-admitted Liverpool fan is also wanted at Anfield. Newcastle United are also rumoured to be interested in acquiring his services. The reported fee of €35 million is also justifiable in the current transfer market.
All three players are currently enjoying successful seasons and could improve Arsenal. However, they also present certain restrictions.
Folarin Balogun is the latest in a growing list of top-quality talents to emerge from the youth academy. The 21-year-old striker was a part of the squad for a few games last season, and still has a lot of room for growth.
His integration into the current Gunners side would perhaps be the smoothest. However, his high marketability makes his sale an enticing option for Edu and co. The Englishman is also unlikely to get regular playing time, being behind Nketiah and Jesus in the pecking order.
Marcus Thuram is a more widely established name. Although just 25-year-old, the French forward has been performing consistently for several seasons now. Moreover, the striker can also play on the left-wing.
Currently approaching the peak of his career, it is doubtful that Thuram would be willing to take a bench role at the Emirates. And Arteta cannot guarantee the Monchengladbach hitman regular minutes given how well Trossard and Martinelli have been playing.
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Jesper Lindstrøm is, perhaps, the best fit for what Arsenal are lacking at the moment. He can be used on the right as an alternative to Bukayo Saka, while providing cover for multiple positions. It is possible that the Spaniard could try to use him as an “8” in the LCM role too.
However, the Danish attacker is not the exact profile that the Arsenal manager is seeking from his targets. His induction in the squad could necessitate more tweaks accordingly in Arteta’s system.
Which attacker should Arsenal sign amongst the targets to reinforce their frontline? Let us know in the comments.
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