Arsenal striker transfer targets: Isak, David, Jović, Tomás, Calvert-Lewin rumours, price
With an Arsenal move for Dušan Vlahović looking increasingly unlikely, Mikel Arteta and Edu are reportedly moving on to other options. Among them are Swedish international Alexander Isak of Real Sociedad, Canadian international Jonathan David of Lille, Serbian international Luka Jović of real Madrid, Everton and England man Dominic Calvert Lewin and Spain international Raúl de Tomás at Espanyol.
The Gunners need a new striker, if not now, this summer. Many believe that an upgrade before the January window closes on the 31st would be enough to secure the Top 4 in Arteta’s side. The club scored just one goal in five matches in January, and I agree with the general consensus that Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are not. Moreover, both are out of contract this summer. The relationship with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is seemingly beyond repair, leaving the Gunners with Folarin Balogun and Tyreece John-Jules as the only real forwards under contract next season. Arsenal therefore need to bring someone in before the start of the 2022-23 Premier League season.
Alexander Isak was linked with the Gunners over the summer but signed a contract extension with La Real which included a £75million release clause, likely in anticipation of an upcoming big-money move to a club bigger. I don’t see Arsenal paying that much for Isak; either they negotiate this clause or they look elsewhere.
The 22-year-old is a promising prospect who has the tools to become a star. His goals and xG numbers are roughly similar, which is a good sign that its appeal and price aren’t artificially inflated by garish but ultimately unsustainable numbers. He’s in the 90th percentile for successful dribbling, which I like. Arsenal’s reluctance to step into the box and run into defenders against Burnley nearly drove me crazy.
But Isak is not yet a finished product, he still has development to do like most Gunners-linked targets – it’s a by-product of buying young players. Is this a risk Arsenal can take for a big number? Recent transfer companies, Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale in particular, say yes.
Jonathan David is having a solid season at Lille with 12 goals in 22 appearances. In total, he has scored 25 goals in 59 Ligue Un matches, which is a lower appearance rate than Nicolas Pépé (35 in 74). He has good numbers of passes and pressure, and brief compositions have him similar to Alexandre Lacazette. Arsenal’s attack improved when Lacazette became a regular starter, so perhaps a younger, better-finished(?) version would be the right move. The £50m price tag gets me thinking though.
Luka Jovic has been linked with a move to north London over the past two days, but on a loan instead of a purchase. The Serbian striker struggled at Real Madrid and failed to come close to the 17 goals in 32 appearances he had for Eintracht Frankfurt, prompting his £50m move to Spain ahead of the season 2019-2020.
Jović is more of a passer and dribbler than a finisher, so I’m not sure he’s the right fit for an Arsenal team that needs to score. But the Gunners have had some success with Madrid’s recent shortage/surplus player moves, so maybe you’ll come back to that. Dani Ceballos helped the club win a FA Cup. Martin Ødegaard was a fantastic recruit. And I think signing Mesut Özil almost 10 years ago also worked.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin intrigues me, but that might be familiarity more than anything. He has by far the worst advanced statistics from one of the Arsenal-linked players and has spent most of this season with a fractured toe. He’s not injury prone though, having over 30 appearances each of the last four seasons. Arsenal would have to pay the English tax plus whatever it takes to steer them away from a genuinely relegation-threatened Everton side. It would therefore cost more than £60million. But you haven’t scored 13 and 16 goals in the last two Premier League seasons by accident. He’s a solid player, more of a fox in the box/finisher than anything.
I confess that I know very little Raul de Tomas. Fbref and the internet tell me that he is a very good dribbler, a solid passer, and that he shoots a lot. His goals and xG numbers are about even, which is good. For what it’s worth, one of his closest accomplices is Alexander Isak. But he is also 27 and reportedly has a nearly £60million release clause in his contract. Either that number is negotiated or it doesn’t come to Arsenal.
What are Mikel Arteta and Edu looking for in a striker? And what exactly are they looking for in this window? It looks like Arsenal need two forwards for next season, so you don’t necessarily have to bring in your future No.1, long-term starter. If you can get your save for the next few years and think he’ll be an upgrade from Lacazette and Nketiah right now, I think you’re doing that business as well. And if it’s on the table (which I think it should be) you could see Arsenal moving in for a veteran player who isn’t on this list and isn’t flying in the rumor mill as of this second.
And if you’re trying to get your future number 1, it always depends on the type of player you want. If you want a goalscorer like Aubameyang was supposed to be (and Vlahović seems to be), I think Alexander Isak is the best shot with Dominic Calvert-Lewin as a secondary option. If you like the way the attack looks with Lacazette, Jonathan David is your man. Or you could go for No. 2 for the next few seasons in Raúl de Tomás. Or a stopgap with a 6 month loan for Luka Jović, although I’m not convinced he’s an upgrade unless he gets his form back.
I think I have to get over some of the sticker shock I feel with the supposed price tags on players. After all, it’s not my money. If Arsenal think they can afford a player, I have to be sure they can fit him into the budget, ie not hold back from making other big moves. Also, strikers are expensive because *** news flash *** scoring goals is important. You’re going to have to shell out for a voucher.
If I had to choose one from this group, I would probably go with Isak. But as it has become my refrain, I am inclined to trust the decision makers at the club at the moment. They will have good reasons to do what should be done (or not done). And I’ll root like hell for whoever they bring.