Three strikers Arsenal should pursue in January, if they really do need one

The calls for Arsenal to sign a striker have increased, but who can the club pursue to lead the line in the January window?

Central strikers have become a premium commodity in the market, with many top clubs looking at a small pool of options. Teams, including Arsenal, have increasingly moved on from a traditional No.9, with versatility in the position given more weightage, the choices have drastically reduced from the perspective of finding the perfect forward.

Take the Premier League, for example; different teams have adopted a variety of striker options. Arsenal mounted a title challenge with a half-fit Gabriel Jesus and the somewhat inconsistent Eddie Nketiah. But their ability to spread the goals within the squad helped their season.

Liverpool and Manchester City moved out of a false-nine kind of striker by bringing tall, stocky centre-forwards in Darwin Nunez and Erling Haaland in the same window. Now, the same is expected of Arsenal, with the chatter that they need a striker of that quality to compete at the top level.

Without ignoring the fact that many believe Kai Havertz could have been signed for that precise reason, Mikel Arteta has somewhat tainted that theory. The German does have the attributes, skillset and experience to play in the centre-forward role. But the Gunners boss has increasingly used him as a midfielder in the attacking eight positions.

The idea may pay dividends in the future, as Arteta probably wants to develop Havertz in a similar role he played while at Bayer Leverkusen. A recent compilation from his days at the German club showed a different side of the attacker, who was flush with agility and brimming with confidence.

The persistence of Chelsea managers over the years to use him primarily as a central striker may have taken away that agility and confidence out of Havertz. The German has played two or three fantastic games as the central striker for Arsenal this season. But with each passing week, it appears Arteta wants to invoke that old Bayer Leverkusen Havertz than the one that Chelsea had.

Hence, Arteta may return to the drawing board for a new striker, probably even in January. The idea of Gabriel Jesus sounds right for Arsenal’s system. But his constant unavailability steadily places him in that unreliable category.

In 18 months, the Brazilian has been brilliant for most parts but missed some crucial periods for the club that may or may not have caused them the title. This season, too, he missed the first few games, and the latest muscular problems will make him miss many more weeks of action.

The other option, Eddie Nketiah, is brilliant in moments but ideally not suited to lead the line for concerted periods. The academy star does have attributes that, at times, serve what Arteta wants, and he also puts in lots of underrated work on the field. But he is a high-quality backup at best and not fit for the leading goalscorer role, one that helps win titles.

Hence, based on how Arteta likes his strikers to play and potentially what he might look at in a new frontman, we have three options for the Arsenal gaffer. Ivan Toney of Brentford, Benjamin Sesko of RB Leipzig and an underrated wildcard option of Vangelis Pavlidis of AZ Alkmaar are the options on our list as we explore three striker targets for the Gunners.

Vangelis Pavlidis

Since the season began, Santiago Gimenez appears to have taken over the narrative in the Eredivisie and rightly so, considering he is currently one of their top scorers. The media has already tipped the Mexican to break the Dutch league record of goals in a single season, going by his current trajectory.

However, when talking about top scorers, the other is Vangelis Pavlidis, the Greek striker who has taken AZ Alkmaar second in Eredivisie. It is pretty staggering that the Greek has not become one of the talking points in the media, which continues to link Gimenez to many top clubs. Still, so far, Pavlidis has only seen a story linking him to West Ham United ahead of the January window.

Pavlidis has been a consistent performer for AZ over the last three seasons. This term, he may have exploded onto the scene rather spectacularly and can become an option for a club like Arsenal. The Greece international’s physicality is a significant factor, and his ability to score different types of goals is something Arteta should look at.

In his current form, he brings something Arsenal lacks in the final third. He is happy to take shots and can link up play as well. His attributes are somewhat close to Jesus in many aspects without the Brazilian’s flair. Still, he can become an exceptional goalscorer in the right environment, something the current Arsenal No.9 lacks in numbers.

Benjamin Sesko

Many clubs were keen to sign Benjamin Sesko during the summer but unwilling to pay over the odds. He continues to interest a host of Premier League sides, including Arsenal but currently continues to rise for new club RB Leipzig.

Leipzig were, in fact, the only club willing to pay over the odds and put in a £20 million bid to sister club Red Bull Salzburg. A report in Daily Mirror claimed Arsenal are interested and have sent scouts to watch the young striker in action. They also stated Leipzig might accept a £40 million offer, which would essentially double their investment in under six months of signing him.

Despite playing fewer minutes than expected for Leipzig, Sesko epitomises the notion of a ‘prolific striker’. Despite the minimal playing time, his minutes-per-goal numbers are staggering. He has six goals in 441 minutes in all competitions for the club, which is a stunning record. Meanwhile, the youngster is also a target of other bigwigs, including Manchester United and Chelsea.

Arsenal can make do with a young striker who is still learning the trade, and bringing him early to the Emirates to get an early integration under Arteta. Some may suggest he is similar to Evan Ferguson, but certainly a cheaper alternative to the Irish star, with an equally high ceiling. The upside of this transfer is that he won’t disrupt the top order too much but could prove himself a handy option, especially for the future.

Ivan Toney

If Arteta needs an absolutely lethal frontman who can guarantee goals, then Arsenal should look no further than Ivan Toney. The striker might be currently banned but becomes available to play right in the middle of the transfer window.

To put it into perspective, if Arsenal can crack a deal with Brentford early in the window, Arteta will have plenty of time to integrate Toney into his setup without the pressure of immediately starting him on the side. Recently, Thomas Frank insisted the 27-year-old guarantees 20 goals a season, and Brentford could value him at £100 million.

In reality, Arsenal or a host of interested clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United would like to pay much less than those prices quoted in recent reports. Brentford have a big task to convince their striker to stay put, considering he will have 18 months left on his deal in January. Hence, the winter window probably represents the best time for the Bees to cash in and even for the player to move into the big league.

Sure, Toney would cost a premium. But if Arsenal are looking to rival Liverpool and Manchester City this season by bringing in a physical goalscorer, then he is the perfect option for them. There is plenty of competition in the market, with him being a Chelsea and Manchester United target, too. But there is a feeling he would prefer a move to Arteta’s side, something the Gunners should consider.

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