Jamie Vardy’s decision to remain with Leicester by signing a new four-year contract with the Premier League champions instead of moving to Arsenal has left the Gunners manager Arsene Wenger requiring to turn to alternative new striking options to strengthen his squad ahead of the 2016/2017 season.
The shadow of Van Persie
By submitting a £22 million offer for Vardy at the start of June, Arsenal triggered the release clause in the striker’s contract with the Foxes. However the 29-year-old former Fleetwood Town player has opted to stay loyal to the club, which Wenger revealed during a recent interview with Chinese TV that he suspected would be the case.
“Jamie Vardy is at the moment, at Leicester and from what I know, he will stay at Leicester,” said Wenger who has been continually frustrated in his efforts to replace Robin Van Persie with a top class striker since the Dutchman left Arsenal for Manchester United four years ago.
Wenger’s most prolific marksman since then has been Olivier Giroud. Despite the Frenchman being one of only seven players to score more than 50 Premier League goals for the Gunners, during his four seasons with the club he has regularly been wasteful in front of goal, whilst struggling to score on big occasions.
Since the injury prone duo of Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck are Wenger’s next best central striking options, the 66-year-old manager is understandably scouting potential reinforcements for the position in an attempt to secure a striker who can capitalise on the fine creative work of players such as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Meaning, to score the goals which will help Arsenal mount a sustainable Premier League title challenge.
Three years ago Wenger was on the verge of signing Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid for £23 million, however did not do so after Los Blancos reportedly demanded an increased fee of £30 million for the Argentinean striker, which Napoli agreed to pay. Since then Higuain, who is currently starring for Argentina in the Copa America, has scored 91 goals in 146 appearances for the Italian club, resulting in Wenger rekindling an interest in the player according to The Daily Mail.
Aside from Higuain, numerous different strikers have been linked with a move to Arsenal, The Guardian recently ran an article stating that the Gunners are competing with many of Europe’s top clubs to secure the signature of Lille’s highly rated Moroccan forward Sofiane Boufal.
Other potential targets for Wenger include a trio of strikers who are currently playing at Euro 2016 in the form of Alvaro Morata, Nolito and Romelu Lukaku, although it was revealed that the giant Belgian striker’s agent Mino Raiola suggested he may wish to remain at Everton following manager Ronald Koeman’s arrival at Goodison Park.
Subsequently, since Wenger’s month long pursuit of Vardy ended unsuccessfully the Frenchman must now decide whether to explore alternative new no.9 options or retain faith in his countryman Giroud.