Arsenal could be set to so solve their striking problems with a move for Romanian frontman Ciprian Marcia. At least, that is the claim made by the player’s agent. Marica is currently without a club after leaving Schalke in the summer and could therefore be signed on a free transfer outside of the transfer window.
Arsene Wenger had identified signing a striker as a major priority in the summer, but failed with moves for Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez. It has left him short of options, especially with Lukas Podolski, who has operated primarily on the left but can play as a main striker, currently out injured.
Arsenal would likely have to turn to youngster Yaya Sanogo or Nicklas Bendtner should anything happen to Olivier Giroud. The Dane was widely expected to leave the Emirates in the close season after spending the past two campaigns out in unsuccessful loan spells with Sunderland and Juventus, respectively.
Agent Ioan Becali has now stated that Marica, who has also been linked with Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan and Lazio, will be arriving to add some depth up front.
“Marica is a really great striker who has already got experience in western European football and so it's natural that big clubs are eyeing his career,” he said, according to the Daily Mirror. “He's close joining Arsenal, but we have to wait for the next week.”
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Whether the comments are genuine or merely a way of trying to increase interest in his client remains to be seen. Certainly, Marica’s recent goal-scoring record is not likely to excite Gunners fans. The 27-year-old, who made a brief appearance as a substitute at the Emirates in the Champions League last season, managed just five Bundesliga goals in two seasons with Schalke, albeit with limited opportunities. He did, though, show that he was keeping sharp, despite not having a club, by scoring in Romania’s 3-0 victory over Hungary last week.
If Marica does not arrive in the short term, Wenger could well make a signing to bolster his attack in January. Arsenal failed to secure Demba Ba on a deadline-day loan move from Chelsea last week, but they remain interested in the Senegalese forward as well as Palermo’s Abel Hernandez, according to The Telegraph.
Chelsea were believed to be understandably unwilling to loan Ba to a potential rival at the top of the table and it is hard to see that situation altering come the New Year. Even a permanent move would likely carry the problem of the 28-year-old being cup-tied for the Champions League -- should Arsenal still be in the competition.
The potential signing of Hernandez would carry none of those problems. Palermo were relegated to Serie B last season, raising the specter of the Uruguay international moving to pastures new. However, the Italian side were unwilling to sell the 23-year-old, although that situation could change in the coming months especially if Hernandez pushes for a switch in order to enhance his World Cup aspirations.
Meanwhile, there continues to be speculation linking Arsenal with a move for Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas. The Spain international’s future remains the source of fervent discussion after being left out of the starting lineup for his club’s first two matches of the season. The Daily Mirror reports that the Gunners and Manchester City are interested, along with Madrid’s bitter rivals Barcelona.
However, Madrid are said to be determined to keep Casillas at the club and are utilizing his former teammate and now assistant coach Zinedine Zidane to act as “peacemaker.” It may be hard to pacify the 32-year-old, though, if he fails to regain his place by January as he looks to ensure his starting role for Spain in Brazil.