The Gunners at present rely on only one recognized centre forward in Olivier Giroud and whilst the Frenchman performed admirably in his debut season in the Premier League, netting 17 goals in all competitions, the North Londoners will likely require more ammunition next term.
Manager Arsene Wenger is understood to be interested in Aston Villa frontman Christian Benteke. The 22-year-old Belgian, also a newcomer to the Premier League, recorded an impressive tally of 23 goals in 39 appearances.
Benteke only arrived at Villa Park last summer from Genk for a fee of £7 million but due to his fine form this term his value has skyrocketed. Villa boss Paul Lambert will be reluctant to let his star striker go, especially not on the cheap – if Wenger wants him he’ll likely have to stump up between £15 million and £20 million to test Villa’s resolve.
Meanwhile, Swansea striker Michu also arrived in England around this time last year from Rayo Vallecano. The Swans paid just £2 million for Michu and his 22 goals last term made him one of the league’s best bargain buys of last summer.
However, the Spaniard won’t be so cheap this time around – like Villa, Swansea will do their utmost to hang on to their main man. He played a vital part in their Capital One Cup win this year and they’ll want to have him in the team to build on their position in the league next season.
His boss Michael Laudrup claimed earlier on this term that Michu was worth up to £30 million although this was in reference to Swansea’s sale of Joe Allen to Liverpool the previous summer. Whilst I doubt it would take a bid of that proportion, it would certainly take a sizeable offer for Arsenal to get him.
He’d likely cost around the same mark as Benteke but the Spaniard is, at 27 years of age, I suppose less of an investment than his Belgian counterpart would be. However, Michu is now likely entering the peak of his career where Benteke still needs time to develop and mature.
I would imagine Benteke would be Wenger’s preference given his track record of developing young players but which one would make most sense in Arsenal’s team?
Giroud is regarded as something along the lines of target man – a more traditional number 9 who holds the ball up well and provides strong aerial capabilities. At 6ft3” Benteke has the same physical presence in the box and would be, in effect, play a very similar role to Giroud.
Conversely, Michu is more of a number 10 – his technical skill with the ball at his feet along with his sublime finishing technique is something Giroud doesn’t really offer. Michu’s movement in and around the box is far superior to Benteke’s – the positions he takes up and the runs he makes are much more intelligent.
Michu is the kind of striker you would have expected Arsene Wenger to have scouted and bought himself – one of those La Liga gems that flies under radar.
Since the departure of Robin van Persie, Arsenal lack a striker with real imagination and creativity – Giroud has his qualities but Lukas Podolski is a far superior finisher and Theo Walcott has developed into quite the poacher.
Arsenal have magic in their midfield via Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere but they don’t have the same magic up front. Michu would be the better option to give Wenger a different option – an alternative to what he’s already got.