Mikel Arteta chooses Arsenal striker clone ‘priority’ after Gabriel Jesus transfer decision – Tom Canton

It can often be that we get fixed on specific players or at least types of players that we feel would be best suited to our club and then feel incredibly frustrated when they do not materialize. I know that I have faced this occurrence a number of times.

Be it Arsenal’s failure to sign Eden Hazard, Marco Asensio or Dominik Szoboszlai I was convinced at the time they would be big hits at the Gunners. More recently I fell into this trap again with Patrik Schick who has since signed a new deal with Bayer Leverkusen.

However, this time I was far less frustrated. All to do with a different point of view to the one I held about the profile of Schick and Arsenal’s striker hunt hitting home.

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I was assured in myself that with Eddie Nketiah, or another similar forward should he have left, at the club that moving for a physically contrasting forward with more of an aerial threat was pivotal. Arsenal have lacked a presence in the air since Olivier Giroud departed.

Yet, this has not stopped them from pinging cross after cross into the box. Gabriel Magalhaes was the highest goalscoring center-half in the league. Unsurprising considering all corners from Arsenal were aimed at the Brazilian.

Even now, it makes sense to me that Arsenal should move for an aerially threatening forward. However, it appears Mikel Arteta has chosen a different route.

Responding to a question about whether Nketiah’s potential new deal would prevent two more signings in the same role in David Ornstein’s most recent Athletic article, the reporter effectively shot the prospect down. He wrote: “I’m away but as far as I know Jesus and Nketiah are the current priority / plan.”

‘Current’ meaning things may change but the information corresponds with football.london’s understanding that Jesus is high up on the club’s wish list. Jesus, like Nketiah, is a diminutive forward whose strengths lie not in the air but with the ball at his feet.

It is here where that aforementioned differing point of view comes into play. The idea that a contrasting forward is of benefit to Arsenal was clear.

However, having two similar strikers also has a big positive. Arsenal play with a one striker system and switching out Jesus and Nketiah across four competitions next season would mean little-to-no change to the way Arsenal would play.

Change the profile of the striker and the build-up would need to cater to the forward’s specific characteristics. However, switching between two forwards that are similar and the form and momentum can continue with relative ease.

Jesus has been involved in this style of rotation under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. He previously rotated with Sergio Aguero, another smaller forward. Since then, has interchanged with Phil Foden and Jack Grealish for the central position of the front three at City.

Liverpool have used Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in the center. Three players you would hardly describe as physically imposing. The success of these two sides in picking up all the trophies the English game has to offer this season is unsurprising when looking at this dynamic of striker options. Perhaps then it is fair that Mikel Arteta too wants to follow this mold and have strikers who fit the same parameters?

Should a deal for Jesus occur, next season will hopefully provide an answer to whether it has worked. If it does not, you can be sure there will be criticisms.

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