Premier League • England

Five top-class strikers Arsenal could target this summer – from £17m to £100m superstars

Ryan Baldi
Ivan Toney, Joshua Zirkzee and Serhou Guirassy

Could Toney, Zirkzee or Guirassy give Arsenal the upgrade they need at centre-forward?

One of the most impressive aspects of the job Mikel Arteta has done so far at Arsenal is that he has managed to elevate the Gunners to the status of genuine title contenders without being able to rely upon a prolific goal-scorer at the point of attack.

Winger Bukayo Saka is currently Arsenal’s highest Premier League scorer this term with 13 goals. Strikers Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah have managed just nine league goals combined.

Regardless of how their pursuit of a first title in 20 years pans out this season, it seems highly likely that Arteta will apportion a significant amount of his transfer budget to sign a top striker this summer.

Here are five centre-forwards the Gunners should consider.

Ivan Toney

The Brentford striker has shown no ill effects from his eight-month layoff due to a suspension for contravening the FA’s gambling regulations. Since his return, Toney has scored four goals in eight appearances for the Bees.

And almost as soon as he had completed his ban, Toney was speaking openly about the fact that, with his contract entering its final 18 months, this is likely to be his last season as a Brentford player.

“You can never predict when is the right time to move elsewhere, but I think it’s obvious I want to play for a top club,” he told Sky Sports in January.

The one-cap England man fits the bill for Arsenal’s needs up top, possessing lethal finishing combined with an imposing physical presence and the ability to provide an outlet against pressure with his hold-up and link play.

Unlike other options the Gunners might be considering this summer, he would require no adaptation to the Premier League, having already established himself as one of the best marksmen in the English top flight since Brentford’s promotion almost four years ago.

Toney would not come without risk, however. Turning 28 this month and said to be valued at around £100 million, he would be a costly acquisition with little resale value.

Joshua Zirkzee

Dutch striker Zirkzee would not come much cheaper than Toney, with Bologna believed to have set his price tag at around €80 million, in accordance with the fee fellow Serie A side Atalanta demanded from Manchester United for Rasmus Hojlund last year.

While also being younger, at just 22 years of age, Zirkzee matches many of Toney’s traits as a stylistic fit for Arsenal. At 6ft 4ins, he is physically robust, yet he possesses immaculate touch, the athleticism to break away from defenders and cool finishing skills that have seen him score 10 goals in 26 league games so far this term.

Beginning his senior career at Bayern Munich, Zirkzee scored 18 goals in 47 games while on loan at Anderlecht in 2021-22, after which he signed for Bologna in an €8.5 million deal. The young striker endured a difficult first campaign in Italy, scoring just two goals in 19 Serie A outings, but he has bounced back this season to mark himself out as one of Europe’s most promising forwards.

Amid rival interest from Manchester United, Napoli and AC Milan, Arsenal might be wary of a bidding war if they decide Zirkzee is their top target. Bologna will be keen to extract as much of a return for the player as possible, as Bayern are reportedly entitled to a 40 per cent cut of any fee.

“We will see what the future holds for him,” Bologna manager Thiago Motta said recently. “Zirkzee is one of those who always trains hard, inspires the others and can show to the new players what it means to represent Bologna. He has a bright future ahead of him, but the most important thing is that he focuses on our present.”

READ MOREMan Utd told why Joshua Zirkzee is the perfect No 9 with Ten Hag implored to make huge push to sign him

Viktor Gyokeres

When he signed for the club as a teenager in 2017, Gyokeres had all the hallmarks of being another of Brighton’s stellar young signings who they’d inevitably go on to sell at a huge profit. He arrived from IF Brommapojkarna in his native Sweden off the back of a breakout season in which he’d scored 13 goals in 29 league games.

But the rapid 6ft 2ins striker was unable to make an impact at the AmEx Stadium. After a series of loans, he stelled with Coventry in the second tier, scoring 40 goals in 97 games for the Sky Blues before joining Sporting CP last summer for a club-record €20 million.

And already, Gyokeres has provided an incredible return on the Portuguese club’s investment, with an astonishing strike rate of 31 goals in 36 games, while also providing 11 assists.

With a €100 million release clause written into the 25-year-old’s contract, Sporting could quintuple their outlay on Gyokeres this summer, although up to 15 per cent of any fee is owed to Coventry.

Arsenal striker targets' stats this season

How Arsenal’s five potential striker targets have done this season

Benjamin Sesko

Following the apparent blueprint Arsenal have identified in physically imposing, highly athletic and deftly skilled strikers, RB Leipzig’s Sesko is an obvious candidate.

The 20-year-old Slovenian goal-scorer has drawn comparisons to Manchester City superstar Erling Haaland, not least because he followed in the prolific Norwegian’s footsteps at Red Bull Salzburg before moving to the Bundesliga last summer.

The 6ft 5ins striker has scored 10 goals in 31 appearances for Leipzig this season and with a £43 million release clause, he represents one of the lower-cost options in the current market of high-potential young strikers around the Continent.

Serhou Guirassy

France-born Guinea international Guirassy has been one of the revelations of the 2023-24 Bundesliga season, having scored an incredible 20 goals from 18 games for Stuttgart, a tally bettered only by Harry Kane.

A late bloomer, the 27-year-old experienced an itinerate career before joining Die Roten initially on loan in 2022, taking in spells with Laval, Lille, Auxerre, Cologne, Amiens and Rennes.

It was only with Rennes in 2020-21 that he first reached a double-figures goals return for a single campaign, scoring 13 times from 32 appearances, but he hasn’t looked back since. Twelve goals with Rennes the subsequent term then led to 14 in 28 games on loan with Stuttgart.

Guirassy set Bundesliga records with the rapid rate of his scoring to start the 2023-24 season – notching 10 goals in his first five matches and 13 in his first seven, respectively matching and eclipsing high marks previously set by Robert Lewandowski.

Three goals in four appearances since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations suggests his scoring is not slowing down, too.

What’s more, with a release clause of just £17 million, Guirassy would represent little financial risk for Arsenal relative to other potential targets.

IN DEPTH – Ivan Toney next? Ranking Arteta’s Arsenal signings from PL clubs; Chelsea mixed bag, hopeless free agent…