Mikel Arteta has already identified Arsenal’s next summer signing after new transfer development

The current Premier League season may only be seven games old but Arsenal are already turning their attention to next summer’s transfer.

Despite making six new signings – Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Nuno Tavares, Martin Odegaard and Albert Sambi Lokonga – in the window just gone, for a cost of around £150 million, there is a recognition that Mikel Arteta’s squad is far from complete.

The Gunners need to strengthen in several areas if they are to challenge for the titles Stan and Josh Kroenke claim to want to win.

One of those is the centre forward position.

It may seem odd to think given that this is an area of the squad where Arsenal currently have five options in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Flo Balogun and Gabriel Martinelli, but that could change very quickly.

football.london understands that Lacazette will leave the club when his contract expires next summer. Nketiah is expected to do the same despite being offered a new deal.

Aubameyang meanwhile will be 33-years-old by the time he enters the final year of his contract at the end of this season.

This could that the Gunners are on the hunt for a new striker next summer, and has led to recent reports that Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ollie Watkins are among the names being looked at.

However, questions have to be asked over whether the pair would really be the right fit for what Arteta is planning at the Emirates.

Mikel Arteta saw his side draw 0-0 to Brighton on Saturday
Mikel Arteta saw his side draw 0-0 to Brighton on Saturday

In a press conference in May, Aubameyang elaborated a little on what exactly this.

“As a centre forward I try to be involved more in the game because the coach is expecting from our number nine to give some solutions to play during the game,” the 32-year-old said.

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In other words the Spaniard wants a striker capable of dropping deep to link the play, creating space for his teammates around him to exploit.

The Gunners captain has shown improvements in this area this season. His goal against Spurs was a prime example of this as he dropped deep to receive a pass from Kieran Tierney before immediately flicking it round the corner for Emile Smith Rowe to run on to.

However, as witnessed against Brighton just this Saturday gone, Aubameyang struggles a little when it comes to holding the ball up against defenders who are more superior than him in the air.

Of the seven aerial duels the Gabon international competed for, he won just three against the Seagulls, as Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk and Dan Burn were able to effectively take him out of the game.

This though is an area where Calvert-Lewin excels.

The Everton forward ranked joint third for aerial duels won among Premier League strikers last season, and having spent much of his development career in midfield, he is excellent at bringing teammates into play.

The 24-year-old would also provide more of a threat to get on the end of Tierney’s crosses.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been linked with a move to Arsenal. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been linked with a move to Arsenal. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Countless times already this season the Scot has put in fine delivery only for none of Arsenal’s strikers to take advantage, but having scored the most headed goals in the Premier League last season (7), you would back Calvert-Lewin to change that.

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However, Arteta also wants a player capable of leading the press from the front for his side.

This is where Calvert-Lewin struggles somewhat, ranking in just the 14th percentile for successful pressures per 90 among strikers in Europe’s top five leagues (2.69).

While it could be argued that this is as a result of Everton’s tactics, Watkins undoubtedly has the upper hand here ranking in the 71st percentile, with nearly double the number of pressures made per game compared to his England teammate (4.36).

By way of comparison Lacazette, who Watkins would essentially be replacing if he were to come in, ranks in the 69th percentile, so the 25-year-old would represent a slight upgrade as Arsenal attempt to transition into a higher pressing side under Arteta.

Ultimately though, being a centre forward is about scoring goals, and it’s here where both of the Gunners potential targets struggle.

Despite netting 16 and 14 goals respectively in the Premier League last season, stats suggest that Calvert-Lewin and Watkins could have had more if they had been more clinical.

The Everton forward underperformed his expected goals by 2.21 goals, while Watkins was slightly worse manging 2.28 less goals than expected.

In a team that has struggled to create chances like Arsenal have at times under Arteta this would undoubtedly be a concern.

Despite this though, with the profiles both players have, and their respective experience in the Premier League it is easy to see why the Gunners are linked to them.

Pricing may be an issue as neither Everton or Aston Villa are likely to want to sell their players who are both contracted to 2025.

But with centre forward top of shopping list next summer at the Emirates, both Calvert-Lewin and Watkins could be good options to replace Lacazette.

Source by Football London

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