Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has been desperate to add to his attacking options at Arsenal, and rumours are rife that a deal may be close to bring Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez to the Emirates.
According to Le Buteur in Algeria via the Daily Telegraph, an agreement with the Premier League champions over a £37 million deal for Mahrez is nearing completion, and a deal may be finalised within the next 24 hours.
Wenger and Arsenal are clearly desperate to sign the winger whose quality, trickery and pace would add a new dimension to Arsenal’s attack, as well as another source of goals given his contributions for Leicester on their way to a maiden top-flight title last season. He was instrumental in that campaign, scoring 17 from the wing and providing 11 assists.
In his two seasons in the Premier League, Mahrez has proven himself as a capable player and a strong outlet at the highest level, and having not splashed out on a marquee signing since bringing Alexis to North London, Wenger may be under pressure to bag his man on this occasion to bring the buzz back to the Emirates and rebuild Arsenal’s title ambitions.
The Mirror and the Evening Standard are consistent with these reports in suggesting that although the Gunners were rebuffed in their approach for Jamie Vardy, Mahrez may not show the same loyalty to the champions and has set his sights on a move to North London.
Elsewhere, many Gunners fans will be desperate for their side to sign a goal-scoring striker even if Mahrez were to arrive, and the Telegraph reports that Wenger has confirmed Arsenal’s interest in bringing in another forward after comments made following their 2-1 win in the United States over MLS All Stars, saying:
“At the moment I have not too many attacking options in terms of experienced players. But there are also players who did not play, like Santi Cazorla and of course Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are at home. Olivier Giroud also is not here”.
“So we have options but we will still look outside to find one more”.
A goal-scorer has long been seen as the missing piece of the jigsaw in reigniting Arsenal’s title ambitions and seeing an end to twelve years of failure in the domestic league. Olivier Giroud remains the only fit out-and-out centre forward at the club with Danny Welbeck ruled out until the New Year with injury, and Wenger is under increased pressure to bolster his options up front.
To this end, the Mirror suggests that the Gunners are prepared to add fuel to the fire of the Alexandre Lacazette transfer saga as they prepare to reignite proceedings by tabling a second bid to test the resolve of French club Olympique Lyonnais.
Arsenal’s initial approach of roughly £29 million was rejected earlier in the week, and the Gunners are now poised to make their improved offer of £33.6 million in an attempt to force the hand of the French club to cash in. The Telegraph is consistent with such reports, though the Mirror also claims that Arsenal will put a cap on their price at their improved offer of £33.6 million and may look elsewhere should the Ligue 1 side snub their latest offer.
Lacazette may be the ideal strike partner for Olivier Giroud, and may see the latter double up as a target man over a spearhead in order to provide service for his French counterpart. Were the Gunners to succeed in the acquisition of Mahrez, both forwards would have a great creative outlet to feed from, and with the Algerian and Lacazette both reliable sources of goals, much pressure would be relieved on the likes of Giroud and Alexis Sanchez as Arsenal’s main source of goals.
The Daily Star claims that Arsenal have also had a £45.5 million approach rebuffed by Inter Milan for target Mauro Icardi in their hunt for a centre-forward. Arsenal have been linked to the Inter skipper for some time, but they face stiff competition in the market amidst further interest from Napoli and it seems the Milan outfit are determined to keep their man at the San Siro.
Icardi would certainly fit the bill as a goal-scorer for Arsenal, and slot perfectly into their dynamic, creative passing style, not only with his finishing but in the manner in which he can link-up play with team-mates. Though with Inter reluctant to part with their asset and potential competition in the market, it seems that Wenger has turned away from the Argentine and made fellow Frenchman Lacazette his number one target.
Should Arsenal fail to land either, The Metro reports that Arsenal could look to fill out their forward options by joining Liverpool in the hunt for Real Madrid’s 23-year old attacker Jese Rodriguez.
The 23-year old has found the pickings slim at the Bernabeu, and Zinedine Zidane has advised the youngster to consider seeking out first-team opportunities elsewhere and a move away from the Bernabeu appears likely.
Jese would not only add to Wenger’s options up front, but he could fill in all across Wenger’s attacking line given his versatility. Mostly deployed on the left wing, Jese has also played on the opposite flank, in the hole and as a centre-forward and has scored goals for Real even in his limited opportunities.
His goal record of 32 goals in 80 appearances for Real Madrid Castilla also suggests that he can solve Arsenal’s goalscoring woes if given a run of games under his belt.
His technique in small spaces has drawn comparisons to team-mates Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale given his effective retention of the ball, and capability of cutting inside, playing of team-mates, picking out passes and having a real eye for goal. Jese could fit in well in Wenger’s attacking trio alongside Giroud, or even just behind to wreak havoc on opposition defences.
Given his age, the youngster is in need of first-team football to aid his development which he is unlikely to get at Real, and given Arsenal’s limited fire-power up front he may have more luck in making a breakthrough at the Emirates, though Premier League rivals Liverpool are standing in their way and a bidding war over the youngster may be in the pipe-line.
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