Reports emerged last week that the Ivory Coast international could be up for grabs in the New Year as the Gunners continue to assess their options of bringing in either some cover or a genuine alternative to their only recognized centre-forward Olivier Giroud.
It’s a facetious question to ask whether Kalou would be better than Nicklas Bendtner but it’s the first question one must answer and I personally think the answer is probably yes. Yes please, maybe.
The problem, of course, is that Kalou will likely not be the Gunners’ fans first choice of striker signing in January – especially given the names that have been linked with the North Londoners in recent weeks and months.
Kalou would likely not be the kind of signing that would follow the record signing of Mesut Ozil who was hailed as something of a mythical god upon his arrival at the Emirates. The fans would surely prefer something of a similar grandeur like Ozil’s former Real Madrid teammate Karim Benzema or Juventus and Spain striker Fernando Llorente.
The other factor to consider as well, however, is that Arsenal fans will be thinking of the Salomon Kalou of 2011/12 at Stamford Bridge – the guy who was used primarily as a second-half substitute and never really got anywhere near a decent run of games in the first team, never mind starts. To be fair to the Ivorian, he had Didier Drogba in front of him.
He arrived at Chelsea in 2006 from Feyanoord where a certain former Gunners striker also originated from (see Manchester United for details) and Kalou was just 21 years of age at the time. The Blues brought in Kalou the same year they bought Andrei Schevshenko – Drogba was already there, as was Jose Mourinho, Arjen Robben, and in the period he spent at Stamford Bridge, the Blues brought in Nicolas Anelka, Daniel Sturridge, and Fernando Torres.
All of the above was probably not a series of events that inspired much confidence in the striker – his best season in a blue shirt was 2010/11 in which he scored 13 goals in all competitions and chipped in 6 assists. Prior to that he was around and about a 10 goals per season forward.
Subsequently, Kalou moved to Lille last year and made a decent attempt to resuscitate his career – prior to that move he had also been linked with a potential move to Arsenal and there certainly seems to be a received understanding that Arsene Wenger is an admirer of his.
He scored 16 goals in all competitions for Lille last term as well as adding 6 assists and he’s started off reasonably well this term, getting off the mark with 3 goals and 2 assists in 10 appearances. He’s now 28 years old and with the World Cup around the corner next summer he’ll want to do all he can to earn his selection for Ivory Coast.
Didier Drogba remains in the national setup despite his 35 years of age as well as former Gunners forward Gervinho, CSKA Moscow’s Seydou Doumbia, Swansea’s new signing Wilfried Bony, and Everton’s new signing Arouna Kone. There is a massive amount of competition for places.
For £2.5 million, Arsenal should just take him anyway – he can’t be any worse than Bendtner or Park and he’s got Premier League experience as well as a point to prove. I’m not saying he should be their number one target but why not take a gamble on Kalou as well. Arsenal only have one decent striker – most clubs have three or four, especially those who want to win a title this term. Plus, not making the grade at Chelsea is not necessarily the best rule of thumb for strikers - look at Daniel Sturridge and Romelu Lukaku, for example.