Arsenal also in for surprise striker despite Olivier Giroud extension?
First it was Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal teasing tabloids about a surprise signing, and now Premier League rivals Arsenal (25/1 chances with Coral to lift the Champions League) are getting in on the act.
Gunners director Lord Harris told press about a potential secret striker arrival at the Emirates, stating: “We get a list of the players that [Arsene] Wenger wants. On the list is a centre forward, but I’m not going to tell you who he is. I think he wants to come.
“It basically comes down to whether the other team can find a superstar to replace him. We could go into the market and probably buy any player in the world.
“Money was tight when we moved to the Emirates but it’s a lot freer now. In the accounts, there’s over £200m in the bank,” added the Arsenal big-wig, whose words are sure to work fans of the Londoners into a frenzy.
Although Arsenal have been linked with adding to their attacking armoury all summer, this update emerges just after leading man Olivier Giroud reportedly inked a new deal to keep him with the capital club until 2018.
The former Montpellier marksman hit 14 in the league last term, including a prolific purple patch of nine in 10, yet there are still question marks over the French forward’s ability to lead the Gunners to glory.
Wenger’s squad lends itself to a fluid and flexible formation, with dynamic and adaptable attackers including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and and Danny Welbeck already at the club, with spearhead Giroud providing a focal point and adding something a little different.
It remains to be seen whether Wenger will opt for an upgrade in the centre forward position to challenge Giroud, or rather a player to complement the established predator.
If money is no object, however, as Harris says, then who could Arsenal acquire?
The Londoners are just a few top class signings away from realistically challenging on all fronts, but are yet to add to the excellent capture of Petr Cech, and now it appears adding further potency up top is a priority.
Two familiar faces continue to be tipped to join the Gunners’ arsenal, with Napoli goal machine Gonzalo Higuain and Real Madrid hitman Karim Benzema two rumours that refuse to go away.
The pair are certainly of the calibre that would require Arsenal to dip deep into their coffers, though there are potential pitfalls to both that could mean Wenger should look elsewhere.
Higuain’s pedigree is not in question after notching 18 strikes in Serie A last season. Yet fluffed lines and missed spotkicks for both Argentina in the Copa America and Napoli, at the crunch end of the campaign, leaves room for doubt about whether he would truly be an improvement on Giroud, particularly for a lofty pricetag.
Should the Argentine’s former Real clubmate and competitor Benzema actually be the star on top of Wenger’s wishlist, Arsenal (9/2 to win the Premier League) could also face similar issues.
Ex-Los Blancos boss Jose Mourinho once famously said of selecting the France international: “If you can’t go hunting with your dog then you have to take your cat.” Ouch.
It remains to be seen whether Real believe Benzema expendable, but either way Arsenal need leaders on the pitch to provide passion and spur the side on from the frontline.
There are few of those talents up for sale this summer, though prolific Poland and Bayern Munich frontman Robert Lewandowski is a standout sharpshooter that fits the bill, and may not be as impossible to prise from the Allianz Arena as first thought.
Lethal Lewandowski is one of the most complete forwards in football, with the strength and power to slot seamlessly into Premier League life, plus the technical ability and vision to suit Wenger’s tastes. Oh, and he also has a ruthless and irrepressible nose for goal.
The Munich marksman’s agent told media it would be pricey to land the predator, saying “I think it would have to be a very high offer, definitely higher than €50m”, but if the Gunners have the funds, Lewandowski has the potential to take them to the pinnacle of European football and would certainly be worth smashing club-record transfer fees for.