Having woken up to the distinct possibility that Jamie Vardy could become an Arsenal player in the coming days, things are getting serious quickly considering only a few weeks ago, this story was dismissed as a needless transfer rumour.
Here are four attacking alternatives that Arsenal could and potentially should pursue, as opposed to the 29-year-old Leicester forward:
Starting with the oldest and most experienced player on the list, Lukaku is a supreme talent who has flourished at Everton over the past three years since his initial loan move from Chelsea.
They signed him after a successful season-long loan, and he has been their talisman ever since. With 45 goals and 14 assists (all competitions) since the start of the 2014/15 campaign, it’s no surprise that he has begun intriguing a number of European clubs set to battle for his signature.
He has been very honest about his quest to play Champions League football, having already experienced the rigours of Europa League competition and that’s something Arsenal can provide.
Everton’s current valuation (£65m) seems one to try and scare off potential suitors but if offers in that price range from top sides are made, you get the inkling he’d angle for a move with more urgency. Powerful, agile and a clinical eye for goal, he’d represent another big-money signing at the Emirates.
At 19-years-old, Embolo is undoubtedly one of the most powerful and talented teenage strikers in Europe. Having cemented his place in the Basel first-team, he made his international debut for Switzerland in March last year and continues to develop at a rapid rate.
He’s good with the ball at his feet, enjoys running directly at defences as well as linking up with team-mates, something he does with seeming ease.
With 13 goals and nine assists in all competitions this past campaign, he’s definitely a hot prospect with a number of big clubs monitoring his situation. This is understandable given his talent, and reports have suggested that Tottenham and Manchester United are amongst the Premier League sides interested in his signature.
Often shifted out onto either wing to accommodate others within the Basel set-up, he’s one of the club’s most reliable players – but they’d be aware that interest can often unsettle and if possible, selling him rather than dealing with a disgruntled player might be their best option.
£20m is the fee that has headlines rolling at the moment and with everything considered, it’s a hefty sum for a talented youngster but one that could turn out to be a steal in a few years’ time. The longer we stall over a price, the higher risk another team will come in and snap him up quickly, especially with the European Championships just a few days away.
Not many teenagers have a buyout clause of £40m, but Gabriel Barbosa – also known as ‘Gabigol’ – does.
Touted as the successor to Neymar’s throne at Santos, he signed his first professional contract in 2012 and hasn’t looked back since. A skillful player who has shown maturity beyond his years since his debut, he’s prolific and also has a high defensive work-rate, something rarely found in strikers.
Agile with a low centre of gravity, you can tell from watching him that he loves to beat defenders and is difficult to shrug off the ball too. Having been rewarded for his excellent displays with a senior international cap for his native Brazil, he went on to score against Panama. He turns 20 at the end of August and it won’t be long before teams declare their interest in signing him.
The main problem is his aforementioned £40m release clause. Arsenal have only ever paid this type of money in recent years, and questions would definitely be asked if they were to do so for someone who isn’t yet proven in Europe. Even still, his versatility to play in multiple positions as well as his potential alone suggest it’d be a risk worth taking.
Last but not least, another Belgian forward and one that has enjoyed a breakthrough season and is attracting all sorts of interest across Europe.
Batshuayi was heavily linked with a move to West Ham at the end of the season, but those headlines have cooled somewhat. Tottenham were also keeping tabs on the 22-year-old’s progress, but they are reportedly unwilling to meet Marseille’s asking price, in the region of £30m.
This is where Arsenal should come in. With 23 goals and ten assists across all competitions for L’OM, it’s no surprise that he is in demand. Without his goals as well as his overall contribution to the side, Marseille could be preparing for life in Ligue 2 next season. As a result it’s back to the drawing board in terms of their squad, with too many average players to challenge PSG in the top half of the table.
It is clear that he needs a step-up in quality, and having played a lot more minutes this term, he’s developed further as a result. He’s strong, quick and definitely an aerial presence – a move to the Emirates could be the next step in terms of career progression, with better players around allowing him to blossom.