Premier League • England

‘Ideal’ Arsenal striker scenario comes to light as sudden ‘transformation’ looms

Arsenal strike duo Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah

Arsenal have been advised that the best-case scenario is for them to keep Alexandre Lacazette for one year to avoid a complete and sudden overhaul in attack.

Lacazette is in the final few months of his contract with Arsenal, as is Eddie Nketiah. The club have already lost Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after sanctioning a winter exit. Now, they are at risk of being deprived further up front.

If Lacazette and Nketiah leave, Arsenal would simply have to spend on a striker. Their only other options would be Gabriel Martinelli, if he converts from being a winger, and Folarin Balogun after he returns from loan.

Arsenal could have concerns about extending the deal of Lacazette, who turns 31 in May. Although they appointed him as Aubameyang’s successor as captain, they would not want a repeat of what happened with the Gabon international after he committed to a new contract in 2020.

Aubameyang’s form declined severely, not warranting the high wages they had put him on. Eventually, it was best for all to move on.

But for Lacazette, the situation is different. According to pundit Alan Smith – himself a former Arsenal striker – Lacazette is a good character who could help the club move into a new era.

However, he only thinks the club should make a short-term commitment to ease the transition to a new main man to lead the line.

Smith told the Mirror: “The question is what length contract do you give Lacazette and what he wants at his age.

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“Arsenal don’t want to be stuck with someone that is overpaid and underperforming; they’ve been there before.

“It looks like he is a good character of the dressing room. But it all depends on who they have lined up to come in.

“In an ideal world you might give him a one-year contract to oversee the transformation of that attack. But yeah, there is a lot of work for Arteta in the summer.”

Top-four not essential for new Lacazette strike partner

Arsenal are being linked with a number of high-profile striker targets. They have already missed out on one after Juventus beat them to Dusan Vlahovic in January.

Now, the Gunners need to try and finish in the top four to ensure they are attractive to alternative options in the transfer market. However, Smith thinks they will still have appeal either way.

He said: “If you’re in the Champions League, players want to play in that competition. So that would be a massive advantage.

“But Arsenal are still a big club. They’re a London club with fantastic facilities and when it comes to attracting players from foreign lands, being in London matters a lot and they pay a decent wage.

“They have lessened the wage bill in a big way and so we will see. But I am sure they already have targets lined up and they are ready to press that button when the transfer window opens.”

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