According to reports this week the Gunners have joined the ‘chase’ to sign the £25 million-rated Spain youngster but would Rodrigo represent a long-term prospect for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger or a ‘stopgap’ signing to relieve the burden on Olivier Giroud this term?
The Brazilian-born Spain U21 international has impressed for Benfica this term scoring 8 goals in all competitions. After failing to break through into the first team at Real Madrid where he developed as a youngster in his native Spain, Rodrigo went in search of opportunities in the Portuguese capital.
He has scored 23 goals in 56 appearances for Benfica since his arrival in 2010. He was sent out on loan to Bolton Wanderers in the 2010/11 season and likely wouldn’t find it as difficult to adapt to life in England as some of the Gunners other reported targets, the likes of his compatriot Alvaro Morata, perhaps would.
The question remains, however, if Arsenal continue their pursuit of the forward, is it with a view to bring him to the Emirates for the foreseeable future or just a stop-gap signing to cover Giroud in case of injury, fatigue or suspension? One would expect if the infamously frugal Wenger were to splash out up to £25 million to sign him, he would be part of his long-term plans.
However, the return to fitness expected for summer signing Yaya Sanogo as well as Nicklas Bendtner could mean Wenger is simply looking at options for the worst case scenario situations as the Gunners chase the Premier League and Champions League titles as well as the FA Cup this term.
Perhaps failure to lure Rodrigo’s former teammate at the Real Madrid academy Morata this month has led him to look for the next best thing – the French coach had been linked with a loan move for the 21-year-old striker who has ruled out a move away from the Bernabeu earlier this month.
Rodrigo would perhaps be better suited to a move to the Premier League, given his experience in the Championship with Bolton as well as his appearance in the Europa League final last season against Chelsea, and the quarterfinals against Newcastle.
At 5ft 11” and blistering pace he could be exactly the kind of striker to tear Premier League defences apart. There is indeed very good reason he has been nicknamed ‘the machine’ in Lisbon and, if brought to the Emirates this month, he could well be in integral part of the Arsenal machine for the foreseeable future.
image: © Crystian Cruz