It looks like Arsenal will have to face the prospect of playing next season without Robin van Persie in their squad, but who should they get to replace him?
The Gunners captain last week released a statement saying he would not be signing an extension to his current contract, which has just 12 months left to run.
While it is not absolutely certain Van Persie will depart the Emirates Stadium this summer, it is by far the most likely outcome due to the tone of the statement he published on his official website.
It will be difficult to replace a player who scored 37 goals for the club last season, but replace him they must.
GMF have identified a number of possible transfer targets that have been linked with Arsene Wenger’ side in the past, or players who would be suitable replacements for the free-scoring Dutchman.
Here are the top five from a list drawn up…
Fernando Llorente, Athletic Bilbao
The Spain international was mentioned as a possible Arsenal target a few weeks ago, but Van Persie’s future was seen as pivotal in whether initial admiration would become genuine interest.
Llorente is a tall powerful front man and was thought of as a typical big centre-forward for some time, but this changed when Marcelo Bielsa took over at Athletic. The Chilean’s system of play showed him to be a more mobile and technically gifted striker than previously assumed.
Robert Lewandoski, Borussia Dortmund
The Poland international was impressive in spells at Euro 2012, but his true class was shown in his double-winning season with Borussia Dortmund last term. The 23-year-old front man was the club’s top scorer with 30 goals and is adept at playing the lone role in attack, though his movement and technique are not equal to Van Persie.
Lewandowski is a pure goalscorer, however, and is constantly trying to exploit gaps in defences and losing his marker. His style suits the pace of the Premier League and would be a very good signing by Wenger.
Loic Remy, Marseille
The France international was heavily linked with a switch to Arsenal’s bitter rivals Tottenham, but the sacking of Harry Redknapp has meant the talk of a
move to White Hart Lane has quietened. The Gunners have now been included in those credited with an interest and Remy would be a suitable replacement for their top scorer.
Fast and athletic, Remy has the physical capacity to occupy defenders across the back line and would fit well into role that Van Persie occupied last season. Though he is quicker than the Dutchman, with more of a mind to take defenders on. He scored 22 goals for Marseille last season, but did spend some time out due to injuries.
Edin Dzeko, Manchester City
The Bosnian striker has not been the success he was predicted to be since he made the move from Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga to the Etihad Stadium. Now reports of a City deal for Van Persie have claimed the Premier League champions are willing to let Dzeko go the other way.
Arsenal fans may not be too happy getting a player who has been deemed a flop, but his sizeable salary is more likely to nip any deal in the bud. Dzeko has obviously not settled in too well with the Citizens, but his success in Germany has proved he is a very talented striker when the situation is right for him. Often isolated when playing up front for City, Dzeko is more comfortable when the forward play is going through him and he can bring runners form deep into the game, much in the same way Van Persie was doing.
Olivier Giroud, Arsenal
Wenger’s latest French signing joined the club stating that he would not be a replacement for Van Persie, but would be playing alongside him. This now looks increasingly unlikely and the assertions that the Ligue 1 top scorer was not a replacement can be called into question.
Giroud is very much a centre-forward designed to play in a lone role and Wenger has been praised the level of his interchange play. Utilising the 25-year-old after Van Persie’s departure could well signal a change in the way Arsenal play, going for a more traditional attacking focal point and getting more direct runners to support him. Whether or not Giroud was signed as replacement, that is what he is going to be if Arsenal do not resolve the situation quickly and want to avoid a repeat of last summer.
What do you think of the five options? Which of them would you prefer as a replacement if Van Persie does leave?
Leave a comment below to let us know…