Signing a striker is sure to be a priority for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger this summer. Whether it’s to support Olivier Giroud, offer an alternative to the club’s leading scorer or even replace him, Arsenal need more goals on a squad that found the net more than 30 times fewer than both Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League this season.
Here’s a look at five players linked with a move to the Emirates:
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
The former Lyon star, who will keep Giroud out of France’s starting lineup at this summer’s World Cup, has long been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium and there seems little doubt that Wenger would love to add him to his squad. Technically gifted, quick and an accomplished finisher, Benzema would surely be a hit in the Arsenal side, where he would rekindle his relationship with Mesut Ozil and offer the German a better target for his clever through balls. After splitting time with Gonzalo Higuain for his first four seasons at the club, Benzema has reveled in being the main man this season, scoring 24 goals in all competitions.
Speculation: The latest claim comes from The Telegraph, which believes Arsenal will make a £30 million move after the Champions League final. Madrid-based publication, Marca, however, has repeatedly reported that Benzema wants to stay and his extension to a contract that expires next summer is a mere formality.
Prediction: Benzema was keen to remain at the club last summer and after a difficult start to the campaign, when he was jeered by his own fans, has proven his worth. Yet, with just a year left on his contract, doubt persists over his future. There remains a sense that Madrid would still like to sign a superstar to complete their forward trident alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, with Luis Suarez thought to be their prime target. The futures of Benzema and Suarez are clearly linked. With Liverpool having already demonstrated their resolve to hang onto their star man and now able to offer a place in the Champions League, it looks likely that both he and Benzema will be staying put.
Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich)
The Croatia international scored 21 goals in his first campaign at Bayern last season to help them to a historic treble. He has followed it up with 25 goals this year, yet Bayern have already confirmed the signing of Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski next season, putting Mandzukic’s place under real threat. Bayern have repeatedly insisted that they want Mandzukic to stay and think he will, but the former Wolfsburg man appeared put out when the Lewandowski deal was announced. He works tirelessly and offers a quality penalty-box presence, however it is doubtful that he is either different enough from Giroud or enough of an upgrade on the current Arsenal striker to justify a significant outlay on a player who will turn 28 later this month.
Speculation: Wenger hinted in January that Mandzukic was a player he was interested in and would evaluate the situation in the summer. Both the Daily Mail and The Telegraph have said that Wenger is still tracking the player.
Prediction: If a big club like Arsenal were to come in with a significant offer for Madzukic, then he would surely consider his options. With Lewandowski’s arrival and Pep Guardiola having often played without a traditional striker this season, Mandzukic is unlikely to even match his 21 Bundesliga starts this season next term. However, Mandzukic would make an unusual Wenger signing and his age counts against it happening.
Julian Draxler (Schalke)
Arsenal made a concerted effort to sign the German starlet in the January transfer window, but were in the end unwilling to match Schalke’s €45 million (£37m) valuation, which matches the release clause in his contract. Draxler, 20, became the youngest player in Bundesliga history to make 100 appearances and is likely to go to the World Cup this summer, despite a mid-season injury and dip in form. He has primarily played from the left of an attacking midfield trio, but Wenger reportedly intends to turn him into a striker the same way he did with Robin van Persie.
Speculation: Arsenal’s interest in Draxler is well known and he continues to be linked by a host of publications.
Prediction: Draxler has said that it is “very likely” that he will stay with Schalke next season and that he has no thoughts about leaving. With Schalke also adamant he isn’t going anywhere, Arsenal will have to match his release clause to force the issue. While you can never rule any transfer out completely, this deal looks unlikely to happen this summer.
Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad)
Vela came over to Arsenal as a 16-year-old in 2005 but was never able to establish himself in the side, despite scoring a hat-trick on his full debut in the League Cup. After several loan moves, he turned his stay at Real Sociedad into a permanent transfer in 2012 and has impressed greatly. After 14 La Liga goals last season, he has scored 15 this campaign, even though he has mainly played from the right side. His form has attracted much interest, although he won’t be playing at the World Cup this summer having declined to play with Mexico since 2011.
Speculation: Credible reports in Spain this week have claimed that Arsenal are set to activate a clause in the deal that took Vela to Sociedad, which allows the Gunners to re-sign him for just £3.3 million.
Prediction: With such a clause, it would also be negligent of Arsenal not to activate it. Even if they don’t intend to use the player, they would doubtless make a significant profit were they immediately to ship him off elsewhere. There is, though, good reason for Wenger to want to utilize Vela. It is perhaps doubtful that he would be a player to take the place of Giroud, but he could inject some dynamism and goals from out wide that is sorely lacking without Theo Walcott. The biggest question mark over a deal is that Vela has previously not been overly positive about the prospect of returning to Arsenal. He would likely want guarantees that he would be a regular in the side. Still, it could well happen.
Loic Remy (Queens Park Rangers)
Remy has long been seen as a future Arsenal player, but after falling out of favor at the end of his time with Marseille he instead moved to England with Queens Park Rangers in January of 2013. His six Premier League goals couldn’t keep QPR in the Premier League but he subsequently went on a season-long loan to Newcastle United where he has continued to prove a reliable scorer, netting 14 times. A reported £8 million release clause in his contract means he is likely to make a permanent move this summer. The 27-year-old renowned for his pace and has often played out wide rather than through the middle as a main striker.
Speculation: Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has made no secret of the fact that he wants to sign Remy permanently, but that he fears missing out to a bigger club. Arsenal could well be that club having continued to be linked to the player, including by the Sunday People, who have reported that Remy is keen to move to the Emirates. The fact that Remy was spotted at the Emirates watching Arsenal’s match with West Brom earlier this month has only fuelled the speculation.
Prediction: Remy would doubtless be a useful addition for Arsenal and give them vital added pace in attacking areas. His price must also surely attract Wenger. There will likely be competition for his signature, however, and Arsenal may balk at matching the massive wages that Remy is currently on at QPR.