Arsenal have stepped up their attempts to recruit a new striker in the January transfer window. Manager Arsene Wenger has told his team of scouts to focus on finding an alternative to Olivier Giroud in the coming months, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Giroud was recruited in the summer and scored his first Premier League goal against West Ham on Saturday while showing the potential to be a strong focal point for the Arsenal attack. But, with the departure of Robin van Persie coupled with Nicklas Bendtner and Ju-Young Park being allowed to leave on loan, Marouane Chamakh is currently the only other established central striker in the squad.
According to the Telegraph, the names at the top of Wenger’s hot list are Spanish pair Fernando Llorente and Adrian Lopez, along with Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic and Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski.
Of that quartet, Llorente would appear to be the one most readily available in midseason. The Spain international has run into the final year of his contract at Athletic Bilbao and appears highly unlikely to sign a new deal. Llorente has yet to be selected from the start for his club this season amid a reported bust up with manager Marcelo Bielsa as well as the fans at the San Mames.
While Athletic refused to negotiate on the the 27-year-old’s €36 million (£29m) buyout clause in the summer, with Llorente able to leave for nothing at the end of the season, that position could well change in January.
The main stumbling block for Arsenal could well be the competition for his signature. Juventus are thought to be likely to make a renewed attempt to sign Llorente in January, having failed with their approach in the summer.
Like fellow reported target Lewandowski, there are also doubts as to whether Llorente’s style would present a complimentary option to Giroud.
Lewandowski has an extra year on his deal compared with Llorente, however the Poland international has also made noises about wanting to look for a move in the near future. With Dortmund hopeful of remaining in the Champions League into the New Year, as well as challenging for a third-successive Bundesliga crown, it appears unlikely that they will sanction the sale of their top scorer last season.
Wenger may well be looking for less of a target man and instead a more technically gifted striker. Both Adrian and Jovetic would fit these criteria.
Adrian, who can play in a variety of positions along the front line, struck seven league goals in his first season with Atletico Madrid last term, while adding a further 10 in their run to claiming the Europa League. The Spain international, 24, has been linked with Arsenal for some time and, with Atletico’s financial problems, a January move may be attainable.
Jovetic, 22, is another to be linked with Arsenal in the past, while he is also thought to be on the radars of Chelsea and Juventus. The Montenegro international hit 14 goals in Serie A last season as he put behind him the disappointment of missing the entirety of the 2010-2011 season with a serious knee injury.
While the Daily Mail claims that Arsenal are also looking at Palermo’s Abel Hernandez, that now appears unlikely given that the 22-year-old will reportedly be sidelined for six months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament while on international duty with Uruguay.