Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has praised the attributed of Olivier Giroud but think Arsenal still need more up front if they are to step up another level.
Arsenal have been heavily linked with a move for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema this summer but Real Madrid still don’t look particularly willing to sell, while the striker seems happy to stay in Spain.
However, the rumours have seemed to put a little pressure on Arsenal, though the transfer has never seemed a particularly likely one.
“I would like to see a world class centre forward coming into the club,” Keown told talkSPORT. “Someone that really puts the fear of God into the opposing defenders. Someone you can roll it to and they can do the rest.”
With a lack of pace, Giroud isn’t exactly likely to take players on like Thierry Henry could. Arsenal have learnt to play to his strengths and Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey in particular score far more goals when Giroud is in the team.
A more selfish striker may well score more goals than the Frenchman, but chances are other players wouldn’t score as often if Giroud wasn’t playing alongside them.
“I see Giroud as almost like a backboard for midfield players travelling from distance to try and score goals,” Keown explained. “I think there are times when you have got to role it to the centre-forward and he has to be the one that makes the difference.”
That may not quite be the case with Arsenal’s main centre-forward, but Alexis Sánchez does have that ability. The Chilean, truthfully, is the main goalscorer, he just operates from a wide role.
During his time as an Arsenal player Keown was fortunate enough to have the likes of Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry leading the line, but players of that ilk aren’t so easy to come across. Even if you want Karim Benzema, Sergio Agüero or Robert Lewandowski to the lead the line you face the issue of every other top club in Europe also wanting them, and their clubs have to be prepared to sell.
It’s unlikely that Arsenal will sign an upgrade on Giroud this summer, and Keown does still believe he has a big role to play.
“Giroud shouldn’t be underestimated. He has a big part to play in Arsenal’s success this season but I’m not sure he is up there with some of the greats that have played in the past.
“[A world class striker] would take Arsenal to the next level and it would galvanise the group. It raises the bar, the rest of the group become more competitive, and there is real competition for places.”
Maybe it would help us reach the next level, but that’s not an option if there’s no attainable target.