The progress made in the recent months at Arsenal has been a testament to the squad under Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard has turned the views of plenty of Gunners supporters with the victories over the festive period and the performance at home to Manchester City.
These results have been achieved through a drastic response after the loss to Everton at Goodison Park. The matches with Southampton, West Ham, Leeds United and Norwich City saw a very different Arsenal to the one that had gone before.
It was as if something had finally clicked in the group on the pitch. In particular, the decision to drop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after a disciplinary issue and subsequent stripping of his captaincy appeared to pay off. Alexandre Lacazette came into the team and Frenchman’s performances have been critical to the way Arteta’s side has played.
The Frenchman’s link-up play has led to three assists in his last four matches as well as two goals. However, with the forward set to leave and the department looking thin up top, Arsenal are on the lookout for a new striker.
Reports from Italy have suggested that the club have submitted a bid for Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic. Gazzetta dello Sport claim that the Gunners have made a €55 million (£46m) plus Lucas Torreira bid to sign the Serbian this winter.
Di Marzio has already reported that Vlahovic’s representatives have been disinterested in speaking with the north London side, viewing other prospective offers to come as being more attractive.
However, should Arsenal even be considering the 21-year-old striker when taking into account the successes with their current number nine?
This is not to suggest the club should make extending Lacazette’s deal a priority over signing a new striker. Rather, assessing whether Vlahovic has the characteristics to come into this Arsenal side, the way it is playing, and take it to the next level.
Vlahovic’s style is not similar to Lacazette. The high goal rate of Vlahovic comes from a full focus on the act of scoring. Immediately the reaction might be, ‘great, that is exactly what we want.’ But there is a solid case, however, that having just a high scoring striker doesn’t guarantee success.
Aubameyang’s presence has never coincided with a top-four finish.
When looking at Vlahovic’s game beyond the art of scoring, the work rate and defensive side of the striker is far weaker than his Arsenal counterpart.
A similar trend follows regarding link-up. Vlahovic is 0.4 below the average xA per 90 at 0.10 whilst Lacazette is above the 0.14 average at 0.15.
The question will be whether Mikel Arteta can coach Vlahovic into a striker that ups these numbers. It isn’t out of the question that the forward would be unable to develop his all-around game, especially at his young age. Yet it remains a risk associated with him.
A player like Jonathan David, said also to be a target of Arsenal, brings both the goals and the work rate. Perhaps the Canadian would be a more preferable option for the Gunners to pursue.